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Chapter 12. Chaos Manners > Opposing Charges

Opposing Charges

How do you lead a bunch of inventive independents? Not by taking charge. Leadership of breakthrough teams is a rather special role, radically different from management in traditional tactical teams. The most effective team and project leaders are peers who are highly respected as programmers and problem solvers, who are charismatic trend-setters to whom others naturally look. They lead by example rather than edict—which would almost certainly be resisted—and are able to foster an atmosphere of high mutual regard among team members. They are also good at getting needed resources—work stations, software, training, more time—for the team, keeping it well fueled and heading off any potential breakdown into counterproductive competition for scarce resources.

For success, breakthrough teams also need autonomy: freedom from interference, freedom to explore unanticipated angles and approaches. Good leaders of such teams say, “Let the games begin!” then stay out of the way. The best ones also make sure that nobody else gets in the way either.


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