The tech mechitza
Melissa Nightingale

Years ago, my boss tried to groom me for management. I didn’t like it. I have stayed on the technical side of things. In fact, most technocrats who are truly honest with themselves realize that their skills and sharpness top out at leading a project, but not managing people in a company.

You say you should be in a board room. Really? Why? How do you think you’ll get there? Do you expect people to just drop such authority and salary in your lap and then you’ll magically know what to do with it? I didn’t. In fact some of the worst bosses I’ve known were engineers trying to climb that corporate ladder.

The meritocracy argument is not a myth. The problem is that the merit they measure changes. What you did before doesn’t count for much, if anything. You need to be arrogant, sociable, and a learn-on-your-feet sort of person. The things you need to learn are not technical, they’re social.

What I find is that technocrats are largely anti-social. To make a transition from that life of intense study and technical focus to a job of leading people, is very difficult. I would imagine that women have a harder time breaking in to boardrooms because they socialize differently. We not only have to change the way women socialize, but also the men.

Whining about this in abstract and dancing around the issues won’t help. You need to be blunt, short, and obvious. Name the things that were done that could have been done better. Name the practices that get the company nowhere. Be arrogant.

People like Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Marissa Meyer and, yes, Donald Trump are generally regarded as having a very strong jackass component to their personality. Yet they’re recognized for their leadership. There is a common thread here. Think about it.

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