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Regardless of your position on a hierarchy, the value of your leadership depends on your ability to champion the best possible action, under the circumstances, especially when conditions are uncertain.

(Conditions are always uncertain.) 

In this talk, we explored leadership as synthesizing knowledge, experience and good judgement into decisions based on valid reasons. Also, the value of maintaining both personal and conceptual integrity in the face of systemic blockers.

(There are always systemic blockers.)

When I began coding, I was one of a few women in my compsci classes. I found many of the learning objectives frustrating. “Write code that fights with other code and the last man standing gets an A.” The classrooms felt full of tonka toys and first-person shooters. When I spoke to my advisor, he agreed. “Using all the lingo does not make you a good coder. Good code and well-structured solutions makes you a good coder. Trust me, Diana, you are who business wants.”

This turned out to be true. I have enjoyed many aspects of my career. But much of the social frustration persisted, or got worse, in organizational hierarchies. Where are the women now, the ones who started their tech career when I did?

Over the years, I discovered that the path to leadership was fraught, in part, because I have a different definition. Traditional definitions of “leadership” in tech have almost always failed to deliver transformations. And transformation is what everybody wants.

What is missing is Integration Leadership — a group of skills that structures thinking and communication. The type of thinking that cultivates conceptual integrity, “the most important consideration in systems design.” (Fred Brooks)

Integrative leadership designs and delivers systemic approaches to systems challenges. The skills needed include self awareness, collective reasoning, pattern and practice design, building learning teams and creating capabilities (in people and the technology system). As complexity increases, power and control fail us. Deeply intelligent and modern approaches … are what business need.

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