Charisma Not Enough

Long ago at my first programming job I worked for Bill Footman. We did not write any new code on the project. New development was done by another contractor. We just did maintenance. Sometimes we fixed bugs in a high level language. But when the code got frozen we patched using assembly language.

Bill was something of an anomaly. He was promoted up to a high level in our company at a very young age. This may have been due to his charisma. Maybe it was because he worked long hours when needed. I don't know. By the time I got there he was already a big cheese.

To Bill's credit, he was very interested in the work we did. He wanted to do a lot of coding himself. And he just happened to also be the manager of our team. Bill was good buddies with the manager in our client's organization.

A problem with Bill was that, even though he may have been brilliant, he thought everybody else was incompetent. This included everyone on our team. That right there is a morale buster. Now coming straight out of school I may have indeed been very green. But we had other developers who were actually excellent. They were all labelled morons by our boss.

Another negative for Bill was that he was a code cowboy. We would all work on fixes to be released to lengthy test cycles. But Bill thought he could come in, work a lot of hours, hack out last minute solutions, and everything would be OK. This got out team in trouble many times. Luckily Bill also took the blame for this.

Bill was not only problematic for those who worked for him, but also for senior management. He considered most of the executive management above him a bunch of clowns. I am not sure how they put up with him.

In summary, Bill had a lot of charisma, drive, and skills. However some "personality problems" got in the way of him being a good leader. Luckily he was usually busy saving the world, so those of us who worked under him were safe most of the time.