Do leaders have time for deep work?
Its so easy to get caught up and attempt to be a hero leader acting alone in our leadership capacity to get everthing done or to expect that of other leaders. This article has made me think about how leadership is itself a team sport and, ways we can solve these challenges by working together as a team. Helps to avoid the default thinking that we need do it on our own for whatever reason. Thanks Mike!
Great topic, well articulated. A couple of observations from personal experience:
* Intel - "2 in a box" model: At the senior director level, every department gets a technical leader paired with a business leader. This is a little different from what you're talking about, but does create a division of labor that frees up leadership time.
* Microsoft - business manager model: At the general manager level, every general manager gets a business manager. My sense from working closely with several business managers there was that they filled much of the NCO role you're referencing in the military. Microsoft follows -- or followed, this was more than a decade ago -- a lot of military organizational structure. Some of that was healthy, some of it was "cargo cult" mimicry that's not healthy.
But the challenge for leaders, as you note, is very real.
While splitting work can save time, it might increase the communication overhead between commission officers and NCOs, especially if decisions require joint approval or negotiations. How are conflicts resolved when an NCO disagrees with commission officers?
I like your Officer / NCO analogy; but instead of Eng Manager / Architect, I've seen this incredibly effective as an Eng Manager / Program (Product) Manager pairing. Correctly skilled, the PM provides the all-up customer and product vision and the EM provides the tactical expertise to get s*%& done.
I have a big challenge with this separation. I always get energy from both people management and technical leadership. Whenever my role becomes so rigid that stop me from doing the other I feel disengaged. What you are missing is that many technical decisions are social. It can depend on the team structure, people’s skills in it. This separation would make engineering managers that know nothing about or have no saying in engineering aspects of leadership and architects who care less about the impact of their architectural decisions on the people. And I know we need to cut somewhere and might be easier to find people who might have only one if these skills. So I don’t have answer. I am just not sure if this is the answer.