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BASIC Leadership January 14, 2008

Posted by Chuck Musciano in Leadership.
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One of goals when I started this blog was to capture my thoughts on leadership, motivation, and coaching, which are crucial to my day job. I also wanted to capture my various random thoughts, some of which surround my endless fascination with old computers.

As these themes have been simmering in the back of my mind, I suddenly recalled an event from my high school years that serves both.

I first touched a computer in 1975, when I was a student at West Windsor Plainsboro High School. We punched in BASIC programs and watched the results chunk-chunk-chunk out on rolls of yellow paper. It was the coolest thing I had ever seen, and I was hooked for the rest of my life.

I was so enamored of computer programming that my math teacher, Mrs. Horvath, let me teach BASIC programming to the rest of the class. I took on this task with a vengeance, particularly on the grading of tests and programming assignments, where I ruled with an iron fist. I thought things were going along really well, until two of my “students” (Jeanne Haws and Carol Ryan) shared this sample program with me:

10 READ 20, N$
20 DATA "CHUCK MUSCIANO"
30 END

RUN

LINE 20: OUT OF FRIENDS

Ouch! Clearly there was more to this teaching stuff than I had first thought.

I’ve since learned that teaching and coaching is an art. One of the most important aspects of leadership, it also one of the most satisfying. I long ago left the predictable world of programming computers for the unpredictable world of managing and leading people. There are few things more innately satisfying than helping someone learn, seeing them absorb something new, and watching them apply it to their world.

Leaders must have a vision, a plan, a goal in mind. Their ability to explain that vision, convey it to others, and get them to absorb and embrace it is key to their success. Their is a vast difference between those who manage and those who lead. That gap is readily defined by a leader’s vision and his or her ability to communicate that vision.

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