Jim Barksdale Leadership and Management

October 24, 1997 - Notes by Martina Lauchengco

On Management...

The 5 keys to effective management are: plan -- organize -- staff -- direct -- control

Public is for praise, Private is for reprisal

Cooperate & Communicate
  • As the Marines say, " Shoot, move, communicate"
  • You can't control communication unless it is written; force a form of written dialog for control
  • Verbal communication skills are also important
Remember the higher purpose - look at the big picture
  • like Jonathan Livingston Seagull - the higher you fly, the farther you can see
  • Do the right thing in the absence of specific guidelines
  • Remember to put yourself in their shoes - people want to be listened to and have their views respected

On Leadership... "It is a repeatable skill, not on art"

There are many qualities that make effective leaders (not all managers are effective leaders); the following are some of the most important:
  • Judgment - logically weighing the facts to make a decision. Making sure you're technically qualified to decide.
  • Bearing - its a bit old-fashioned, but favorable carriage and appearance, being self assured and controlled, showing flashes of humor, dignity
  • Decisiveness - prompt decisions, bearing in mind the following guidelines
  • Never make a decision you don't have to make
  • No decision is also a decision.
  • General rules of snakes (problem handling)
  • If you see a snake, kill it
  • Don't play with dead snakes
  • All opportunities start out looking like snakes (look at problems as opportunities to fix them)


  • Initiative - do it now; You are the catalyst for action. The best leaders are those going 900 mph and look like they are walking
  • Unselfishness - help people out; Be willing to pitch in when someone else needs it
  • Loyalty - self-explanatory
  • Integrity - honesty, endurance. On the later, control your pace and rhythm proving you can work long term is more important than proving you can work 100 hr/week- Take good care of your physical health.
  • Tact - courtesy, treating people the way you want to be treated
  • Courage - courage to accept criticism of yourself; take action on it and make things better; always try to do better
  • Knowledge - know your stuff
  • Enthusiasm - go after it and enjoy what you're doing; remember that attitude is a performance problem
  • Dependability - if you're not dependable, it suggests that others around you aren't important enough. It is a combination of tact, courtesy etc. Not being dependable suggests arrogance.
  • Justice - the result of judgment. Know the argument. Don t play favorites when it comes to justice; favoritism is one of the most debititating of all attributes in a workplace

How do you motivate team members?
  • Accentuate the positive, eliminate the negative, but don't mis-state the situation. Fix what we're doing wrong.
  • Execute, accomplish, show constant improvement, listen
  • "When you're in a goldfish bowl, you gotta learn how to act like a fish... I don't know exactly what that means, but don't curse the darkness."

How do we make product development environment sustainable?
  • Remember this is not a sprint; it is a marathon
  • Moderate behavior so it is sustainable AND meets customer expectations
  • In order of importance .... 1 ) Quality 2) Schedule 3) Features.
This acknowledges that hard decisions will have to be made.
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