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SQL Quiz #4 - Leadership

Chris Shaw posts SQL quiz #4, I make an observation on Twitter about who gets tagged, Brent Ozar tags me for complaining being a squeaky wheel, and then I wait 3 months a really long time before posting a reply. Well, better late than never so here goes…

Question: Who has been a great leader in your career and what made them a great leader?

First I want to lay out my criteria for what makes a great leader:

  • A manager who keeps things moving towards a goal or in a particular direction
  • A motivator who keeps everyone enthusiastic about working towards that goal
  • Someone who challenges you to do things that you don't know how to so that you can learn and grow
  • Someone who sees your potential and puts opportunities in front of you
  • Someone who sets an example by walking the walk (the opposite of someone who says "do as I say, not as I do")

That said there are two people who stand out in my mind: Ryan (last name withheld to protect the innocent), a manager I've had in two previous jobs, and Andy Warren (last name not withheld – practically everybody in the SQL community knows who Andy is!).

Ryan was a lead developer at my first job out of college. He was a rock star – he "got" technology and software and he was the go-to guy that everyone sought out when they needed advice or help fixing a problem. On the other hand I had a "me" complex – I thought I was hot stuff so I didn't like Ryan much because I saw him as competition. It didn't take me long to realize that I knew squat and that I needed to get over myself and start learning from the people around me. I'm guessing Ryan noticed my change in attitude because after that he seemed to look out for me as he advanced into management. In particular he sent me for my CCNA certification and eventually put me in charge of the production infrastructure. Ryan later left for another job but sought me out to come work for him again where he put me into a role that helped me grow both technically and professionally. We worked together for a few more years before parting ways (permanently? who knows…), and I will always appreciate the doors that he opened for me. Of all the managers that I've ever worked for he was the only one that met every one of my criteria for a great leader.

Andy Warren
A few years ago I was introduced to Andy Warren by a coworker. Andy was looking for local speakers to give presentations at OPASS and, being the kind of person who's up for new challenges,I volunteered…and completely bombed it. But as bad as I thought it went, Andy still give me constructive feedback on how to do better and asked me if I wanted to try again at the first SQL Saturday in Orlando. I took his advice and did a much better job; In fact, I liked speaking so much that I started volunteering to give more technical presentations whenever the chance presented itself. I also enjoyed reading Andy's blog every day and thought about starting my own. Andy was more than encouraging when I talked with him about it, and that's always been the case with him no matter if I've needed help with something or just a different way of looking at things. I'm fortunate to have become friends with Andy and it's his leadership that helped me become active in the SQL community and lead to being selected as a first time speaker at this year's PASS summit. I hope that one day I have the opportunity to emulate Andy and help someone up and coming in the SQL community the way that he helped me.

I'm not going to tag anybody else since the train left the station on this one a few months ago…and I promise that I'll respond quicker the next time if I still get tagged!


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