How to be a bad leader
(long post, make yourself a coffee before you start reading)
Quite recently, I’ve been studying a module named “IT Governance” for my MSc. In this module I came across to the following definition of leadership:
“Leadership is about inspiring others to do their best and to do so in a focused and co-ordinated way. Leaders are inspirational people and encourage others, by their own example, to achieve ever increasing success. It is often said that ‘Leaders are born, not made’. There is probably some truth in this but not necessarily. ‘Born’ leaders are usually natural extroverts and often come to the front in the most unlikely of situations. The “made” leader is often more reserved and may need much prompting before taking the lead. A major question is the form that this prompting might take“.
The Gentoo Council, which is pretty much leading Gentoo, finally won the “ChangeLog” battle. They are probably feel quite proud about that. But what will the long term consequences be?
Samuli and I, two of the most active developers got demotivated 101%. We used to do like 700 commits/month but the way I see it, speaking for myself, I am not gonna do more than 10 from now on. Council, acting like managers, obsessed with policies and rules, and drunk with all the power, treated developers like nonsense children who think that Gentoo is their playground. But they did not even consider what is best for Gentoo. The result is one more stupid rule to frame our development, two active developers stopped contributing and 4 members left the QA team. I really wonder what kind of leader makes such decisions… Moreover, you will be surprised by the fact that the so called “leaders” do no more than 10 commits/month on average. So people with no active contribution get to decide about active development. Funny :)
This will probably be my last summer in Gentoo. I have to be around to make sure my packages work until I migrate my systems to Arch Linux and Debian ( highly unlikely since most of them are managed by ssh. No physical access :( ). Even before I join Gentoo, I knew that policies were the reason that so many developers decided to leave Gentoo. And yet, nobody learned anything from past experiences. You already know that Gentoo is short on manpower. Yet, leaders feel comfortable to remove cvs access and demotivate people without carrying about the project progress at all.
For those who are going to vote for Council members in a few days, I would advice them to think what is best for Gentoo. Developers who act like developers or developers who act like judges and business managers? Gentoo should be treated as an innovative project, with highly capable developers and active community. Policies are good provided they assist in progress and development. Power can be dodgy, it can easily make you divert from real targets.
@New Council: Try to work close with developers, listen to them, focus on their needs, treat them as adults and respect their knowledge and most of all, do *not* kill their motivation.
Good luck :)
ps: Here is some background reading if you are not aware of the recent developments:
ps2: Comments are closed on purpose. I am not interested in getting involved in any sort of discussion about whether my thoughts are valid or not. I already spent many many hours on mailing lists. Enough is enough :)