Just another blog…

Leadership

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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

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We all have needs and many of these are unique, this is what makes working with people intriguing. Some needs are obvious, others are closely guarded secrets, and more we don’t even know ourselves! As leader’s we have to make every effort to understand the needs of the people in our teams and adjust our approach to meet those needs. I will use Autism and ADHD as an example here as I’ve had a steep learning curve in this area over the last couple of years. These could be considered quite extreme needs compared to others but we can still approach these in a similar way.

The first challenge is recognising there is a need! For those who are not open about their needs, we have to spot them, which makes observation key. Is someone acting out of character? Are you seeing unexpected responses to questions? Is anyone uncomfortable in… Continue reading

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The desire to praise people or teams should be firmly rooted in the mind of every leader. When someone does good work or puts extra effort in for the team it feels natural to praise them for it. I wouldn’t want anyone to think their effort has gone unnoticed. HBR’s blog – The Easiest Thing You Can Do to Be a Great Boss – focuses on recognising great work. Their survey results show giving praise improves the “Boss-Employee” relationship, boosts morale, and improves job satisfaction. I couldn’t agree more and believe that giving praise in part of what makes teams stronger. That was until…

…I came across the following while reading Lean Enterprise (p222):

Dweck’s work shows that if we reward people for the effort they put into solving problems that they find challenging, it shifts them towards a growth mindset. If, in contrast we praise and reward people for… Continue reading

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We obviously know who our team is, but do we really know each person?! Each person is unique, each has their own strengths and weaknesses, likes and dislikes. To get the best out of someone you need to understand them well enough. This takes time but it also takes thought with seeking the right information. Having that deeper knowledge not only strengthens the relationship, it means you have the insight to make decisions for the benefit of individuals and the team.

In a previous blog – taking notes during a one-on-one – I mentioned capturing notes from these one-on-ones into a draft email. This I still do, but there is more in this email that helps me get to know each person. As well as the regular notes I take I aim to out more about them using these subjects: Mobile, Family, Birthday, Lives, Likes, What is truly important, Favourite… Continue reading

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Over the years I’ve been part of many teams, both as a developer and leader, some teams worked well, others not so. There can be many reasons why teams struggle, some of these are clearly visible while others are more difficult to identify. Covering all the technical skills in the team goes without saying, but there is another important ingredient to take into consideration – the personality mix! The wrong mix can cause problems.

When I think back to the teams that worked well the first thing that jumps out is the people I worked with, they made it memorable, and enjoyable! Even when the pressure was on the camaraderie in the team helped us work for each other. The teams I’ve been in that lacked that togetherness struggled because there were clashes and disruptions amongst individuals at a time when we need to be united. Different personalities can affect… Continue reading

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How often do you go to conferences? Going to 2 one day conferences in a single year is my record! Although there are hundreds of tech conferences each year we often don’t get the chance to go to everyone we would like. On the positive side, most of the talks are recorded and shared online creating an opportunity for teams to watch the best talks together!

Of course, there are many benefits to attending conferences than simply watching the talks. They are a great place to network, catch up with friends and meet new ones! The live social media exchanges during the day or a particular talk can be entertaining too. You obviously miss out on the community feel by watching a talk online after the event, but the talk material is still there giving the chance to learn.

Even though talks are shared online it can be difficult to… Continue reading

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I found this short TED talk below by Roselinde Torres relevant for today’s leaders. It was recorded in November 2013 – see if it’s significant for you?

We should always be asking what makes a great leader, particularly ourselves, as it causes us to evaluate the present state of affairs. Have any of the practices we’re using become outdated or is the team obvious to them because there seen as unnecessary? Until we start looking we’re usually not aware of changes happening, as they tend to happen quickly leaders have to be continuing watching.

Roselinde makes some good points about checking who we are spending time with, developing a diverse network of relationships, and being courageous enough to abandon past practices. It is important we are “shaping the future, not reacting to it”, not only for us but especially for our teams. Forward thinking is an important skill, by… Continue reading