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WHAT IS A LEAD ?. By Violet Glickstein MS Computer Science, 1983, Binghamton University “Guest Lecturer” for MSWE601 at UMUC Lead Software Engineer, Helicopter Avionics, IBM/Lockheed Martin, Owego, NY (retired 1999) Ira’s wife and chief advisor*

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What is a lead l.jpg

By Violet Glickstein

  • MS Computer Science, 1983, Binghamton University

  • “Guest Lecturer” for MSWE601 at UMUC

  • Lead Software Engineer, Helicopter Avionics, IBM/Lockheed Martin, Owego, NY (retired 1999)

  • Ira’s wife and chief advisor*

    *NOTE: When Vi worked at IBM/Lockheed Martin in Owego, NY, she had up to 20 people that she directed on the project she was leading. Since she has retired, she has only one people (ME - Ira) to direct.

Violet Glickstein

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  • When I became a lead, I used lessons I learned from experience

  • No specific classes provided about how to lead; I was just selected based on what the company needed and my technical ability

  • No other qualities were assessed by mgmt

Violet Glickstein

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What is a lead?

  • What are characteristics of a good lead vs bad lead?

  • What are the duties of a lead?

  • Can you learn how to be a good lead?

    • Do we have to study software engineering projects to determine how to lead?

    • OR can we learn from something entirely different?

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Learn how to be a lead

  • Learn from something different - polar expeditions and Ernest Shackleton

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Failed Polar Expeditions

  • 1871 - Polaris expedition to reach North Pole. Captain Charles F. Hall poisoned by his men because of dissention, lax discipline, drunkenness, mental anguish.

  • 1890s - Admiral Robert E. Peary accused by his men of intolerant brutality and blamed for causing suicides among his men.

Violet Glickstein

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Failed Polar Expeditions

  • Adolphus Greely - lost 19 of 25 men to starvation and amid accusations of cannabilism.

  • Belgian expedition to Antarctica - ship stuck in ice. Crew described by Dr. Frederick Cook as being gray, drawn, no jesting or cheer, no hope.

Violet Glickstein

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Failed Polar Expeditions

  • 1912 Antarctic expedition of Australian explorer Douglas Mawson - lost both companions (accident and starvation)

Violet Glickstein

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The Endurance Voyage

Violet Glickstein

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The Endurance

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Endurance Expedition

  • http://www.kodak.com/US/en/corp/features/endurance/

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Ernest Shackleton

Violet Glickstein

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Endurance Expedition

  • Dec 5, 1914 - set sail for Antarctica from South Georgia Island

  • Jan 18, 1915 - Endurance trapped in pack ice just one day from planned landing site at Vahsel Bay

  • Oct 27, 1915 - Ship is crushed by ice after drifting with pack ice.

Violet Glickstein

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Endurance Expedition

  • April 9, 1916 - Launch of 3 lifeboats because ice floes are breaking up. Later they land on Elephant Island.

  • April 24, 1916 - Shackleton sets sail in one 22 1/2 foot lifeboat with 5 companions on 800 mile voyage to seek help on South Georgia Island for men left behind. Selects 2 to accompany him for trek across the island.

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South Georgia Island

Trek from landing site at King Haakon Bay to Stromness Bay for rescue

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Endurance Expedition

  • May 10, 1916 - arrived South Georgia Island. Had to cross impassable frozen mountain range to reach the whaling station.

  • http://www.condorjourneys-adventures.com/antarctica_cruise4.asp

  • Immediately turned around to rescue remaining crew on Elephant Island - 4 months more to complete rescue.


Violet Glickstein

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A Great Leader of the 20th Century

  • What qualities did he have?

  • How did he build his team?

  • How did he lead his team?

  • How did he inspire his team?

  • Considered a success and inspired leaders even though he failed at original goal of crossing Antarctica on foot!

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Problems Shackleton Faced

  • Bring diverse group together - work to common goal

  • Handle the pessimist and worrier

  • Keep disgruntled person from “poisoning” others

  • Battle boredom and fatigue

  • Bring order and success to chaos

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Shackleton’s Way

  • Hire an outstanding crew

  • Create spirit of cameraderie

  • Get the best from each person

  • Lead effectively in a crisis

  • Form teams for tough assignments

  • Overcome obstacles to reach your goal

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Shackleton’s Strategy

  • Value flexibility, teamwork and individual triumph

  • Don’t allow an exclusionary inner circle

  • Deal with individuals with respect

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Develop Leadership Skills

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Handbook for Leaders

  • Develop and unify a staff despite varying backgrounds and abilities

  • Organize into successful teams

  • Make workers feel appreciated and inspired

  • Handle crises

  • Break bad news

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Handbook for Leaders

  • Bolster morale

  • Change course quickly when faced with the unexpected

  • Inject humor and fun into work

  • Bond with the staff and still maintain your status as lead

  • Know when to nurture

Violet Glickstein

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Shackleton’s Way

  • “Shackleton made his men want to follow him; he did not force them to do so”

  • “His tools were humor, generosity, intelligence, strength, and compassion. That’s Shackleton’s Way.” Shackleton’s Way, Leadership Lessons from the Great Antarctic Explorer, Margot Morrell and Stephanie Capparell, Viking Penguin 2001

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Experience as Teacher

  • Shackleton learned from experience that:

    • a good boss could make burdensome work seem easier

    • use best tools to make your workers job easier

    • one person could make a difference

    • distinguish yourself by going beyond the basic duties required

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Boost Morale

  • Shackleton had a way of boosting morale by using nicknames, organizing activities, playing jokes

  • He was called the “life and soul” of the ship by the Discovery crew. He organized games.

  • He adapted to the harsh polar environment

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Turn a setback into an opportunity

  • Never badmouthed competitor or boss

    • Avoided public fights

    • Helped other explorers in any way he could

  • Had respect for Scott (former boss) but was determined to do better

  • Even though he was sociable, he did not permit lax discipline

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Paid close attention to details

  • He had bold goals but he was concerned about the safety of everyone

    • Adjusted goals in order to put the safety of his crew first

  • He was very careful in his planning

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Learn from past mistakes

  • He knew the kind of leader he didn’t want to be!

  • Sometimes most valuable lessons are those learned from bad examples.

  • Shackleton’s former boss - Scott - was his bad example.

Violet Glickstein

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dour, bullying, controlling

torment underlings

orchestrate every movement of his men

secretive, untrusting

put team at risk


warm, humorous, egalitarian

tease-not humiliate

delegated responsibility

talked openly with men

valued men’s lives

Scott as bad example

Violet Glickstein

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Hiring an Outstanding Crew

Violet Glickstein

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Hiring Outstanding Crew

  • Need core of experience workers

  • Choose reliable deputy - complements your style but not a “yes-man”. Can work with others.

  • Make sure workers compatible

  • Unconventional interviews for unconventional talent

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Hiring an Outstanding Crew

  • Look for optimists - easier to work in team

  • Hire persons who really want the job

  • Hire people who won’t avoid menial tasks

  • Look for people who have expertise you lack - don’t feel threatened by them

  • Make sure each person knows what they are expected to do

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Hiring an Outstanding Crew

  • Equip crew with state-of-the-art tools. Poor tools waste time and $ and creates poor work conditions.

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Creating Good Working Spirit

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What he hated most

  • pettiness

  • irresponsible bosses

  • insufferable working conditions

  • lack of trust and respect among crew

  • rigid, remote, undemocratic, uncertain leadership

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Foundation of Leadership

  • Build united and loyal crew

  • Teamwork was the goal

  • Relished the task of building a bond among his crew and with them

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  • Members not homogeneous

  • Different social class, occupation and temperament

  • Hired from around English-speaking world

  • Cliques were created that needed breaking down

  • Superiority of pros to seamen; seamen to college boys

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Difficulties (cont.)

  • Lack of discipline when Shackleton took over

  • Many resented work assigned and did min.

  • Those working felt unappreciated and were treated with arrogance

  • Scientific staff treated as inferior by Capt and ship’s officers

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How was team created?

  • Fired slackers and hired replacements

  • He was accessible to his crew, listened to them and kept them informed. His cabin was a safe harbor where they could speak their mind.

  • Established order and routine to create security and productivity; combat boredom

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How was team created?

  • Everyone pitched in to do all the work on the ship; backups therefore created, divisions were blurred. Confidence in their competence was raised.

  • Each crew member valued and treated with respect.

  • For lengthy assignments, care taken in selecting persons to work together.

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How was team created?

  • Evenhanded in all dealings with crew

  • Errors not blown out of proportion

  • Never asked anyone to do something he wouldn’t do. Showed by example how he wanted things done and allowed for bonding with his crew.

  • Balance between work and fun. He was at the center BUT not one of the guys.

Violet Glickstein

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Endurance Stuck in Ice

  • No sailing so sailors had no jobs

  • How avoid disappointment, boredom and fears?

  • Shackleton maintained established routine and structure to create feeling of security

  • He left his men to focus on immediate work while he worked the problem.

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Endurance Stuck in Ice

  • Gave respect and attention to all his men

  • Great optimist who treated this as a “little setback”, as reported by Orde-Lees (crewmember), and set about adjusting goals and plans to account for this problem.

  • Kept a light atmosphere

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How Maintain Morale

  • Believed in creature comforts and allowing each crew member to personalize surroundings.

  • Insisted on healthy diet, exercise and safety because mental ability tied to physical condition.

  • Find tasks for all that were recognized as important - avoid boredom.

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How to Maintain Morale

  • Match personality types with work responsibilities. The best work came from those most interested in their work.

  • Give constant feedback - praise efforts and correct mistakes. Expect the men to do well and intervene only when they don’t. Trust unless evidence proves otherwise.

Violet Glickstein

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How to Maintain Morale

  • Relate to every person as a human being; Not just as a worker. Shackleton developed a personal relationship with each crew member.

  • Hold celebrations. Shackleton and his crew celebrated birthdays and holidays with parties and presents.

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How to Maintain Morale

  • Know each crew member’s idiosyncrasies and was tolerant of them.

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Leading In a Crisis

  • Endurance crushed by ice and sunk. All men assembled on ice and addressed by Shackleton.

  • Provided realistic appraisal of situation, explained options available, and provided plan of action. Thanked his men and asked for support. He appeared calm, confident and strong. His men swore their loyalty.

Violet Glickstein

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Leading In a Crisis

  • Flattened remnants of hierarchy of authority

  • Made contingency plans in great detail but maintained flexibility.

  • Streamline operations so won’t slow down

  • Occasional reality checks a must because over time a crisis is treated as norm - loss of focus

Violet Glickstein

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Leading In a Crisis

  • Treatment of malcontents - instinct is to avoid them; instead keep in close contact and work to win them over

  • Use humor to keep staff at ease and keep the staff busy

  • Don’t obsess over past mistakes - learn from them and move on

Violet Glickstein

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Leading In a Crisis

  • Get advice and info from variety of sources. Ultimately the decision is based on YOUR best judgment

  • All people involved in crisis should participate in the solution

  • Staff should have time to adjust to the idea of an unpopular decision - “leak” early details

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Teams for Tough Assignments

  • Biggest tasks - divide staff into teams of self-sufficient units.

  • Toughest challenges get the toughest teams.

  • Tedious assignments go to the workhorses who can be counted on (based on past experience) to get the job done

  • Team leads are empowered to handle their team

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Teams for Tough Assignments

  • Change your mind as often as necessary - when your plan is not working. You will appear decisive if you explain your decision.

  • Give your team what they need to get the job done!

  • Make sure you show confidence in those who are acting in your place.

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Teams for Tough Assignments

  • NEVER point out weaknesses of individuals in public!

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Overcome Obstacles & Reach Goal

  • As your options narrow, take the risk of a spectacular failure.

  • Congratulate those responsible for success! A pat on the back or handshake is never inappropriate. Don’t just recognize failure; recognize success.

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Case Study # 1

  • Military Systems SW Co is creating software that must integrate HW/SW from a vendor, Joint Systems. MSSC wants to perform the system level acceptance test but is being held up by JS. Army says all JS SW must complete test before SLAT can be conducted. Ask me questions to better define the problem. Can this be fixed?

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Case Study #2

  • Project at MSSC is working on developing and integrating avionics SW. Several teams are working this - Systems Engineering, SW, SW Verification, and SQA. Deadlines have been slipping out. There is bad blood between the different teams. Ask me questions to define the situation. Can any of Shackleton’s leadership rules fix this?

Violet Glickstein