I was reading Hiring Great Hackers, and I realized what went wrong in the places I’ve worked who hired great hackers. (In this case, a hacker is not a derogatory term, it’s someone who lives and breathes producing great software — just not software that yet has a customer base.) The problem was the managers were not as good as managing as the hackers were at developing.
Great hackers deserve great managers. Great managers create an environment in which people can perform great work. They deliver results and increase capacity in their organization while doing developing and maintaining that work environment. In many companies with great hackers, managers need to organize the work to define and release a product, all while discussing the merits of doing the technically “right” thing.
This is hard work — very hard work. And since most of it happens behind closed doors, it’s harder to observe others, to see what you need to do to be a great manager. And, it’s hard to measure. Which means it’s hard to know if you’re doing a great job — being a great manager.
The more talented the people in your organization, the better your managers need to be.