Have You Passed On The Wisdom You Learned From Your Mentor?

A major element of being an effective leader is continuously passing knowledge to your team. Having thought about leadership in technology and what it should aspire to be, I was reminded of Greg Corgan, a world class leader, mentor and friend who passed away in March 2014. My reflection on his teachings led me to write this blog.

What do you believe leadership stands for in technology businesses? Leadership is more critical in the software business than ever. This individual did it right.

Some may know Greg from IBM, CA Technologies, or his short time at OpenText. He was a gifted leader who guided with encouragement, patience and wisdom – he led by lifting others up. Greg’s legacy lives on from me to you as I reflect on his teaching and coaching. We lost a great leader in this industry. He was also a great husband and father, mentor and friend. Today, I am honoring him and his teachings as a leader. I hope some of these ideas can contribute in your life as they have in mine.

Top 10 things I call “Corgan-isms”:

  1. “Go figure it out.” What Greg would say when asked for an answer. Lesson = there are no short cuts. Leaders teach and don’t do for their people.
  2. “You’re #1 in my heart but #34 in my business.” Lesson = Separate the person and the performance. Yes meritocracy rules, but we are leading real people! We need to treat people with respect and integrity while getting results.
  3. “You are making my head hurt.” Direct feedback all of the time, especially when people are making a topic too complicated. Lesson = Know your stuff cold.
  4. “No F-bombs, until you need them.” Lesson = As a leader, your words matter. People are always listening. It’s important to choose your words wisely as they represent you.
  5. “Create High Performer Councils.” Lesson = It’s a great way to skip down and get feedback on your direct reports and confirm the status of your culture and protect your top performers.
  6. “Get in the field; it’s where the truth is.” Lesson = When in HQ jobs, it’s easy to be conditioned that it’s US vs. THEM. Force yourself to see the people in their environment, no matter what.

  7. “Get back to HQ quickly and share the truth.” Lesson = If you’re not in HQ articulating the way forward, some else is.
  8. “What do you mean?” When asked vague questions in front of crowds. Lesson= don’t rush to answer anything. Get the context. It’s important to fully understand the topic and be patient.
  9. “Major in the Majors.” Lesson = In our industry today, there is a trend and a myth that senior leaders need to know everything about everything. Not true. In order to truly scale, Greg taught us the value of knowing your function but also establishing systems to ensure your subordinates knew their functions which led everyone to “major in their majors.”
  10. “Smell the roses.” Lesson = Enterprise software sales is grueling. However, it is a myth in this industry that you cannot have balance in your life and results at the same time. Greg taught us that the more balance you had showed that you are in control of your priorities and in control of your life.

In remembrance…

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