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The road to success: Tech leaders tell all

Paul Heltzel | March 29, 2016
To get to the top of the org chart, you'll need more than basic dev skills. Today's head honchos offer their wisdom on getting ahead

Richard Rabins, CEO and founder of Alpha Software, offers a stark analogy for those who engage in power plays in the corporate world.

Richard Rabins, CEO and founder, Alpha Software
“Remind your colleagues that if too much attention is paid to the internal conflicts, it can weaken the company and put jobs in jeopardy. ... Someone who shows this skill and keeps the team focused on the end goal has true managerial skills.” -- Richard Rabins, CEO and founder, Alpha Software

“Office politics is internal warfare, and market competition is external warfare. Stay focused on the mission of the department/business,” Rabins says. “Remind your colleagues that if too much attention is paid to the internal conflicts, it can weaken the company and put jobs in jeopardy. Remember who the real competition is. Someone who shows this skill and keeps the team focused on the end goal has true managerial skills.”

Remaining emotionally detached can also help navigate dangerous office territory.

“I recommend focusing on the right things: facts and data,” says Danielle Curcio, vice president of engineering for Raytheon Integrated Defense Systems. “I’ve also learned not to take things personally. Most of the time, we are all working toward the same goal -- but trying to get there in different ways.”

Danielle Curcio, vice president of engineering, Raytheon Integrated Defense Systems
“I’ve also learned not to take things personally. Most of the time, we are all working toward the same goal -- but trying to get there in different ways.” -- Danielle Curcio, vice president of engineering, Raytheon Integrated Defense Systems

New tech leaders are often unprepared for the level of politics they’ll deal with, and they’re frequently blindsided when they take charge, says DomainTools’ Roberts. But these dynamics are simply another aspect of the company that requires attention.

“Chances are the other people engaging in office politics are better at playing games and you will lose if you take that approach,” Roberts says. “Don't initially try to address it through an ‘up the chain and back down the chain’ approach. That's playing the game -- talking about others behind their back. Engage, try to understand why they're taking the approach they’re taking, try to establish a direct relationship so that the next time the person can come talk to you directly rather than working through political channels.”

Nick Clark, CTO, DoubleDutch
“Having clear cultural qualities that you screen for in the hiring process -- respectfulness, accountability, a team player -- help to mitigate the onset of politics.” -- Nick Clark, CTO, DoubleDutch

Transparency and accountability -- your employees’ and your own -- are key, says DoubleDutch CTO Nick Clark. “Aside from that, having clear cultural qualities that you screen for in the hiring process -- respectfulness, accountability, a team player -- help to mitigate the onset of politics.”

 

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