Tuesday, March 10, 2009


Enterprise Architecture: The biggest mistake I have made in my career...

Over the weekend, my oldest son asked me a question that has been haunting me all week...

I am a firm believer that leadership requires followership and if no one is willing to follow you then you are not a leader but simply a manager. The biggest mistake in my career is that I had an opportunity to follow a great leader and didn't recognize the benefits of doing so.

In today's society, with Wall Street hitting historic lows, many folks whom I had lots of respect for are on the decline. In good times, it is hard to tell the character of an individual. In bad times, the ones who will still remain human vs those who leverage their survival instincts even when it requires harming those around them become more transparent.

My ego sometimes gets in the way in that I have always taken pride in doing it alone. I have never been installed and no one has ever had my back. Ever notice how some leaders take care of their young even when they do boneheaded mistakes and should be fired? The ability to know that someone is looking out for you at some level allows one to become even greater. The whole risk/reward proposition is fundamentally different when you follow a great leader.

In reflecting back ten or so years ago, when a CIO of another company recognizes not just your talent but your potential and you don't followup on it is just plain dumb. Recently, I ran across an individual who did pick up the trust cues and followed this individual from company to company. The experiences they had not only in succeeding but in also failing miserably has made this person in many ways stronger than I could ever hope to become. At some level, I have never failed which means that not only I haven't been trying hard enough but maybe haven't yet figured out who will save me when I need it the most.

Later in my career, I started to figure out that your reporting hierarchy is literally half of your job satisfaction and I have been blessed in this regard to date. The challenge is that this can change at a moment's whim and what you had today may be gone tomorrow. So, what else can you hang your hat on?

Folks who have interacted with me know that I have never thrown any of my peers under the bus nor allowed them to wander alone in the wildnerness. I wonder if my desire to always be human over playing perception management will be my savior or my downfall? I wonder if I should care less about others and just focus on myself? While I know that this will never make me happy, I do ponder the thought of where I would be if I cared just a little bit less and became a better follower...

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