Halt & Catch Fire – Lesson

Specifically: the first season of the show Halt & Catch Fire.

Spoiler Warning: I do not mention any story or plot specifics below, but in discussing the themes a certain amount of the first season is revealed.

This first season of the show is about the early development of computers, it’s about disruption in a niche market, it is about success and failure, and – what stood out most to me – it is about everything it takes to be successful in business.

Actually: everybody it takes to be successful in business.

The main characters of Joe, Cameron, and Gordon perfectly embody the leader, the visionary, and the craftsperson. Not to go all E-Myth on you, but yes: all three are needed to make a business.

The leader alone will go nowhere, because he does not create anything. (I am not saying this is true of every leader; I am saying that leadership is a skill that can exist and have purpose in isolation). An effective leader changes people, moves people to action, and brings out the best in their abilities.

The visionary alone will lose control. Great vision needs reality, it needs form and structure, and it needs targeted goals in order to succeed. What we see in this show is the way in which a visionary can be a false start or self destruct without the right anchors and encouragement.

The crafts-person is essential to the creation of anything, and is guided by the inspiration of the leader and ideas of the visionary. It is the crafts person attention to detail and quality that allow these dreams to become reality.

In real life, of course we can sometimes find more than one of these traits in the same person. It is not always effective, however, to try to be all three, or even two of these roles.

Find the people who complete your slate of leader, visionary, and crafts person – whether they are partners, colleagues, mentors or consultants – and get the best from everybody involved.

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