On Leadership and software

Tim Barcz (@timbarcz on Twitter) asked “What does leadership in software look like to you? Technical expertise only? explain. enlighten.”

Here’s what I mused over...

Leadership by virtue of its general appellation, means to me to inspire, motivate and direct a group. Technical expertise is only a small fraction of the role. Inspiration lets you lead by example, the way you solve problems, write code, hold conversations, run meetings and even handle your e-mail (yup, welcome to the Inbox Zero crowd!). Your team members and peers will certainly take notice and perhaps begin to emulate. It’s a tough job - you have to be on your toes to make sure that you’re being a good role model and that any detractions are noted and rectified - it’s the way to get better. Inspire - lead by example.

Motivation is a little different, to me, than inspiration - it’s when you have to get your team going as a focussed entity to solve a problem. Communication is key here - making sure that everyone knows what is required of them and of the team as a whole.

Direct - this is where you have to set goals and determine actions to be performed to achieve those goals. Milestones, project and resource management come into play here.

One of the nice things about working in a large corporation is that you get to attend really interesting courses. The recent Personal Leadership course I took changed my skeptical outlook on the value of these courses. Sure there were the usual (maybe trite at times) team building and icebreaker exercises but the key takeaways from the course were often intangible - networking, collaboration and communication. I wound up being introspective into my role in the group and charted a plan of action to improve. The 270º survey (self, bosses and peers) was extremely helpful - letting me know my strengths and where I needed to improve.