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Archive for the ‘leadership’ Category

Lessons Learned in Leadership – You shouldn’t treat everyone the same

Posted by Steve on September 16, 2008

So I am on a ‘write about my leadership experiences’ kick lately! I have had these thougths/ideas floating around in my head for a while and its definitely due time for them to get written down.

This edition is based on the observation that you cannot treat every person you manage the same. For some reason I feel this to be counter intuitive, I think to myself that you would want to treat everyone the same, it is fair that way… right? Not so much.

The ‘issue’ is that everyone: works differently, has different goals, is motivated in different ways essentially everyone needs something else from a manager. I found that when I was first in the leadership role, I tended to treat my team as I would want to be treated by a leader, basically I would give general instructions, lay out my expectations, and then leave them to my own devices (it should be clear that I am not a proponent of micromanaging!). Now this leadership approach would work well with me, that does not mean it would work well with everyone, and I learned this through experience. One of my team members needed (and not necessarily in a bad way) a little more guidance and a little bit more micromanaging, so I had to modify my leadership style to accomodate for that. It was a very interesting revelation for me.

The main point of this post is to illustrate that everyone is different (this is extremely important to not only realize but really understand), and if you look at it that way, its not surprising that everyone needs something different from a leader. So here’s the question… are you a uniform leader or do you modify your style to better suit your various team members?

–Steve

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Lessons Learned in Leadership – A leaders vocabulary and opinions matter!

Posted by Steve on September 16, 2008

In my last position I was the team lead for a release cycle of a product at PlateSpin, Forge (a web based disaster recovery application). The experience was very interesting, challenging and often entertaining, in short it was an incredible experience. I learned quite a bit form it, and from the conversations I had about the postion with my mananger Adam White. What follows are just a few of the things that I have learned

Be Careful of Your Vocabulary
This comes from a conversation I had with Adam. Many times in meetings with my team members (who I was managing) I would say that we ‘should’ do something, for example I said that we ‘should’ do 3 sessions per day (session based testing is a method of testing, one which I am definitely a supporter of, for more info, look at anything James Bach has written). The issue here is my choice of words, I said ‘should’. This comes from my past experiences of interacting mainly with peers. In the peer situation, I would use the word should because we were equals and everything was up for discussion. When you are in a leadership position you must be authoritative in situations where you want things to happen. Continuing with my above example, instead of using the word ‘should’ I began to use the words ‘we will be…’ ‘we have to’, ‘we must’ and so on. Previously I never realized how important the vocabularly I used was

Be Careful of Your Opinions
How many times have you heard the phrase “I know it sucks to have to this, but we have to ok.”? I am guessing its at least once, and even if it is only once, it is too many times! Your attitude towards the things that you HAVE to do (even if you do not like doing them) is incredibly important. If you are negative towards these tasks, your team will pick up on that and they will therefore (in general) also have a negative opinion on these tasks therefore if you want people to do the things that are, at times, annoying to do, you have to have a positive opinion on them, at least on the outside!
So those are just two of the lessons I learned in leadership, there were obviously many more, and some of them I’ll be sharing!

–Steve

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Book Review and Thoughts: The 360 Degree Leader

Posted by Steve on September 9, 2008

This last week I just finished reading a book on leadership: The 360 Degree Leader by John Maxwell. The book is aimed at people who feel stuck or trapped in middle managment. It discusses some of the common problems of being a middle manager as well as an interesting concept of the 360 degree leader, someone who not only leads their follows, but also their peers and superiors. It is roughly a 300 page book, with not too many things that I disagreed with, that’s a decent accomplishment on its own. There were also many things that really resonded with me, I will just discuss some of the ones that I felt were really important.

Leading Up: Be a Go To Player
The go to player is the one that the boss goes to in crunch time, whenever there is something very important or when there is a crisis, it is where you want to be. I have always felt this to be an important relationship to have with your boss as you get the most opportunities, the most freedom and are relied on the most therefore you are the one to achieve your goals if you are trying to move forward as you are able to show what you can do.

Leading Down: A Good leader seems like they are not even there
This something that I have definitely noticed before but never really been able to articulate properly, but this definitely hits the nail on the head. A good manager/leader should have his team in a position so that he can go away for a week or preferably more, and see no impact on the team. Furthermore I feel like a good leader/manager should also always be looking ahead, therefore they are seeing (and possibly solving) potential troublesome problems/road blocks even before their team members even hit them. Now this isnt to say that a good leader doesn’t do work, as you’ll see in the next point.

Leading Down: A good leader leads by example
This is something that I have come to learn some what recently based on personal experience. I have to go back a bit first though to illustrate why it took me so long to figure this one out! As a follower, I like to try to please the leader, in certain situations there are things that I find tedious and do not like doing them, but I’ll do them because I know that it will make my leader happy. On the same vein, the amount of time my leader spends in the office has very little impact on how much time I spend in the office.  But as I learned from when I was in a leader position, this is not always the case. Followers, are called followers for a reason, they often follow by example. If you have a negative opinion on a certain practice, for example sending out a daily update, they will likely have the same negative view. Despite what you may think, they will be watching you, and watching you more closely then you may think, therefore you MUST lead by example.

Those are just some of the tid bits that I picked up from the book, it was defintiely a worth while read, so if you have an empty reading schedule or an opening coming up soon, I would suggest picking up a copy.

–Steve

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