SonicWall CEO Matt Medeiros connected with managed services providers (MSPs) and VARs yesterday, during the HTG Peer Groups gathering in Dallas. But this wasn't an attempt to pitch MSPs on the Dell (NASDAQ: DELL) buyout of SonicWall. Instead, Medeiros and other industry leaders spoke with HTG members about business and company leadership, a growing theme in the MSP market.

During the Leadership Track discussion, there was "not one word on technology," said HTG Founder Arlin Sorenson. "The focus was that people are the only thing that matters. The responsibility of a leader is to identify and hire the right people, to invest in them, and to be training those who will take over the tasks and roles that the entrepreneur/leader has been doing themselves. In other words, we have to be focused on building the leaders who will replace us. That is our highest priority and call."

Among the experts weighing in on the discussion:
  • Dr. Larry Little, executive director of theĀ Enrichment Center in Decatur, Ala.
  • Paul Dippell, well-known for running Service Leadership Inc.
  • Noted executive coach and leadership expert Tom McCarthy
  • SonicWall's Medeiros, who dialed in by phone.
HTG Dallas is the latest example of an event shifting from technology product information to business leadership and life-work balance discussions. During the Ingram Micro VTN conference last week in Colorado Springs, Colo., similar themes emerged.

John Fago, senior director of channel marketing, North America, encouraged Ingram Micro VTN members to get to know their peers beyond the nuts and bolts of business. Many of the guest speakers shared stories about their first jobs out of college, craziest moments in life, and family anecdotes.

Common Goals

So what's the common thread here? Running an MSP or VAR business can be a grueling task -- similar to running a marathon at a sprinter's pace. To help IT service providers with that journey, leadership experts are reinforcing the need for (A) proper staff development and (B) proper life-work balance.

How many of us will succeed with A and B? Hmmm...