Things Software Leaders Should Know

Reflecting on a tumultuous but ultimately successful year. Here’s what I’ve learned, re-learned, or cemented in my “2015 things (software engineering) leaders should know”:

On Measurement

  • Measure everything, as early as possible.
  • Collecting data is cheap. You will not know you need it until after you need it.
  • Do not build anything (teams, features, processes) without having a measure for success.

On Team Empowerment

  • You can never empower teams enough. Ownership is a force multiplier.
  • Convey problems to be solved and jobs to be done, not solutions to be built.
  • But: a great, empowered team still needs direction, and can take direction well when required.
  • An empowered team without appropriate context and direction will (rapidly, skilfully and with great dedication) create chaos.
  • Often mum knows best. Eat your broccoli before you have dessert.

On Coaching

  • Coaching skills are the most impactful thing you can learn as a leader.
  • You may think you’re a good coach, but you’ll be better if you actively train in coaching.
  • Allowing yourself to be coached is a powerful way to improve yourself as a coach.
  • Personal feedback is your lightsaber: be mindful where it’s pointing before you turn it on.

On Discipline

  • Maintain a to-do list. No excuses.
  • If you have people things and tech things on your to-do list, put the people things first on the list.
  • If you don’t have a great technical partner (CTO) to help tick off those tech things on your to-do list, make it your mission to get one.
  • Put Bronnie Ware’s regrets of the dying at the top of your to-do list.
 (also published on Medium)

1 Comment

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