Sunday, 13 November 2011

Contagious Leadership

Microprocessor design was a passion that began in college and has stayed with me even after 23-24 years. In our 3rd year of Engineering, I was introduced to the 8085 Intel microprocessor as part of the curriculum. Professor V. was very friendly and gave the students a lot of room to try out the different experiments and projects. I was enamored by the Architecture, Assembly level language and the SDK kit that we could do all our experiments on. I literally spent my 3rd and 4th year in the microprocessor lab. I was hooked on CPUs and microprocessors.  I ended up taking many architecture courses in my graduate school and many more after I joined work.
When I was about 2 years into my career, I got a job at IBM in the CPU design team.  The team was very large and we were working on a CPU that was at least 4x in performance compared to the best performing CPU available in the market at that time. I was very excited to have landed a job in a CPU design team and finally I had my dream job.

Few months into my job at IBM is when I met the Mr. R, our design manager of the project . He was a very good people manager and he would walk into people’s offices, sit down with them and have casual talks. He made it so comfortable, that I could talk to him very openly. Here was a senior manager who led a 200+ people team – not just any team, a hardcore CPU design team, took the time to talk to a junior person like me and would discuss issues that I am facing.  This is when I decided that I wanted to be a design manager – not just any design manager but one like Mr. R. who could lead a cutting edge technology team and also relate to the people.
This is what I mean by contagious leadership. You just want to be like them. This was how the journey began for me; this is how I set my goals. These goals drove me through all the difficult times of work-life balance and kept me going through 20+ years of my career. Simple efforts by leaders make a big impression on people.  The leaders probably do not realize the impact they have but it takes people through a long way.
I met many more leaders that I want to emulate post IBM. It reminds me of the Jungle Book song “I wanna be like you. I wanna talk like you. Walk like you, too. You'll see it's true. Someone like me. Can learn to be
Over time, your goals do change.  I have moved on from the CPU design teams. But, what has remained constant is that I want to have positive impact on others. I want to be a contagious leader too...

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