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Leadership

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Year-end reviews think back on the year, while this is important it’s also a good opportunity to be forward thinking for next year. Whether it’s for us or others, preparing for next year while reflecting on this one can prove valuable. The goal-setting period usually creeps up on us and, before we know it, we’re throwing in goals without much thought to finally prevent the annoying reminders appearing!

Jotting down a few thoughts now should be a quick exercise. While the year-end discussions are fresh in your mind, note down anything that could help for the future. Ask questions about yourself and your team to help stimulate this time…

  • For each person in the team, what’s top of the list for their growth? Is it an improvement or a new skill?
  • What will your job look like in 1 year? What do you need to plan for? Same for your… Continue reading
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Mentoring can be wide-ranging from offering guidance to advice and support. Approaches can vary, from the very informal to a fully documented structured program. Different approaches have their merits, the correct one will depend on the goal of the mentorship and the people involved. It could be said that any approach is better than none, but that’s not true if a particular style of mentorship harms the mentor-mentee relationship.

Before starting any form of mentorship there needs to be a clear understanding of the reasons for doing it. Only once these are understood can a program be put together. Good mentorship needs to careful thought as no one program will suit everyone. It sounds a lot of effort, that’s because it is! Without the effort, the true value of any guidance may be missed. But there is so much to gain, this is one reason why I believe that mentoring… Continue reading

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I recently watched the movie Sully starring Tom Hanks. Most people will remember the actual event on January 15th, 2009 that the film is based on but I didn’t know anything about the pilot or the investigation that followed. Not only did I really enjoy the movie, I thought it provides some great examples in leadership.

For those who don’t know, or remember, what happened this is about US Airways Flight 1549 that landed in the Hudson River, New York. Three minutes after takeoff the plane struck a flock of birds which took out both engines. Captain Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger decided there wasn’t enough power to reach nearby airports so opted for the river with all 155 passengers and crew surviving. During the investigation the board initially believed the decision to land in the river was a pilot error but as it continued Sully was cleared of any fault.

Was… Continue reading

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When I first became a tech manager it was an exciting time, I knew it would be a challenge and was ready to go! I quickly realized management is not something a two-day training course can really prepare you for but I had one thing going for me, I knew I wanted to be a manager. I made mistakes and was certainly naive in situations but I was learning and gaining experience at every opportunity. Looking back over the years certain areas stand out that I believe are needed to be a successful tech manager.

We’re not short on articles listing the attributes of a good manager/leader, each has similar themes including communication, honesty, transparency, humility, etc. Nothing wrong with these and I believe they are essential to the success of any manager. I want to look at a few others, some are personal traits while others are more practical… Continue reading

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Imagine being in a team when the manager gets you all together to present a plan for a new project starting in a few weeks. It doesn’t have to be a software project, it could be anything. The plan includes the vision for the project, timescales, and people’s names against areas of work. After a run through of the plan, the manager closes the meeting without an opportunity for input from the team. Maybe it’s not too difficult to imagine! It’s a shame, one, because this is typical of many teams and two, there is a manager who is clearly not part of the team. The effects may not be visible until it’s too late.

This approach has many negative effects on the team that could become serious issues. It creates an atmosphere in the team that does little to promote openness. This can be put down to the attitude… Continue reading

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Leading Lean Software Development is a great read and would recommend for any tech leader. There is a lot to draw from and learn but for this blog it was a quote on the last page that caught my attention:

to lead the organization as if I had no power

What an excellent mindset to have! Following the reference to the quote leads to an article Role of Management in a Lean Manufacturing Environment by Gary Convis, Toyota Motor Manufacturing Kentucky, that includes this paragraph:

I’ll never forget the wise advice given me by a man I grew to respect and admire very deeply, Mr. Kan Higashi, who was our second president at NUMMI. When he promoted me to vice president, he said my greatest challenge would be “to lead the organization as if I had no power.” In other words, shape the organization not through the power of will… Continue reading
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I enjoy photography and learning how to capture better photos. I’ve been the photographer at a few low-key events, snapping away trying to catch those special photos. It’s not until later that someone asks did you get a picture of this or can I see a particular photo that you realise you didn’t capture it in the right way or didn’t get it at all. I didn’t know it was important so didn’t spend time being in the right place or thinking how to best capture the moment. I learnt a lesson, know what is important to the hosts of the event. By asking them you find out areas to concentrate on e.g. the food, certain people, a certain activity during the event. If you don’t ask, you don’t know which could lead to disappointment! There is a similarity here with tech teams – do you know what is important… Continue reading