The Hardest Thing For A Leader

Now, there are naturally harder things than what I’m going to talk about in this post. However, given the context of software development and leading teams this is the hardest.
Especially if you’ve gone from being fairly good at the decipline of the people of your team. I have spent a few years being in a position where I lead teams, but recently I stepped down to become a team member. This has given me new insights into how different styles of leadership will affect members of a team. If you’ve been leading for a long time, I highly recommend being led for a year or two. It’ll make you a much better leader afterwards, guaranteed! Here’s mye thoughts leading:

Loose control.

I’ve struggled, and failed, at this previously and I might don’t again. It’s so hard to just let go of controlling details and trusting that given clear directions and goals things work out.
Why is this important? If you lead a team and you constantly interween or pick on details you basically tell the team or person on the team you don’t trust them. It might not be your intention, but it’s what it feels like on the opposite end.
There are of course ways of directing a team without displaying a lack of trust. Mentoring and coaching is one. Letting the team fail and then help them learn what caused it to avoid it happening again.

There can be numerous reasons why a team lead behaves in a way which makes the team feel there is no trust. Personally I’ve failed at this because I’ve deep down wanted to do the task myself, rather than giving it to the team. That’s the old coder showing.
In other contexts I’ve seen “control” applied because the team lead is scared of loosing control over the technical platform. The pace of modern software development is so fast and changes so rapidly, that many x-coders get cold feet because they’re no longer can keep up. The knee-jerk reaction is to limit the use of new things as a last resort to try and stay connected with the technology.

This leads to a team who’s disillusioned and who’s left with an impression that their leader doesn’t trust them and the leader is holding them back.

There’s probably dozens of more samples and reasons why leaders micromanage and behave destructive towards their team. These are just some of the things I’ve done, you might have more samples.

Bottom line is: abandon control and start trusting. If you’ve been leading for a long time, take a step down and see what it’s like beneath you. It’ll do you and those you lead wonders.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.