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Leadership lessons and exercises
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jducoeur
I realized this afternoon that I have some tabs that have been sitting there on my "to read" list for a *long* time -- in this case, over a year. It's a pity, because this one is not just excellent, but useful.

Last year, alexx_kay went to the Game Developer's Conference, and transcribed some fine notes about it. All of them are worth reading, but this one goes far beyond game development: it was a lesson in practical leadership. Even Alexx's brief notes are compelling, and all of them read quite true to me -- and it's worth noting that the lessons here are so right, and so contradictory to the stereotypes of leadership, that they need careful thought. The heart of it is that great leadership comes from humility, a lesson that far too many people could stand to learn.

Worth a quick read for anybody in a leadership position (I will especially call out SCA leaders and peers -- I found it a useful refresher, and I suspect many others would as well). Note also that the original talk itself is now available online -- I haven't had a chance to watch it myself yet, but it's on my to-do list...

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Thanks for this link. I love this quote in particular:
Antoine de St. Exupery: "If you want to build a ship, don't drum up the men to gather wood, divide the work and give orders. Instead, teach them to yearn for the vast and endless sea."

I went and listened to that talk. It was as interesting as you said.

Two things struck me. The first is, I did the exercise for empathy as he was leading people through it, using an ex-boss that really deliberately screwed me over as the target, and it was a lot more difficult and uncomfortable than I thought it would be.

I'm pretty good at empathy -- building a rapport with people was a large chunk of my job at Comcast. But building a superficial connection to a stranger, so you can walk them through some troubleshooting and maybe sell them HBO or phone service, is different from attempting to feel empathy for someone you already don't like. I was aware that, by the end of the exercise, I had my face scrunched up like I was sucking a lemon, because trying to empathise with this . . . person was really uncomfortable.

The other thing is I kept wondering how his talk would have been different if it has been given by a woman. Women are socialized to be more empathetic and to not be arrogant, and that's one of the few areas where I and the other geeky women I know tend to actually act like women.

Particularly I was struck by his final exercise, where he asked everyone to just make eye contact with everyone they passed. My first thought was, "That's not safe." I'm not sure I would recommend a bunch of strangers do that to a further bunch of strangers, because I'm sure we've all had one of those encounters on the subway where some creepy guy interprets 'breathing in his general direction' as a come-on.

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