Monday, July 18, 2016

Leading Well

Understand you're part of a larger system, and are not the center of that system

Your team, your software, and your role are crucial for the success of your company or division. But it's important to remember that you're not THE ONLY thing that lets your company or division succeed. You're one part of a larger ecosystem. Knowing this will help you identify:

  1. Your role and your teams role in the ecosystem and how best to contribute.
  2. What inputs/outputs are needed from you and your team to make the larger system better.
  3. Where you may be a bottleneck to the success of the system.

Do the right thing, not because you're rewarded, but because it's the right thing

Good leaders understand that you're not always going to get rewarded for doing the right thing, but you still need to do it (whatever it may be). Doing the right thing may actually mean you have to take on more work. It may mean admitting that you were/are wrong. It may result in not achieving expectations. Whatever the outcome, it's about doing the right thing because it's right in and of itself.

Make time to step away and remove yourself from the problem space

If you're constantly in the thick of things you're going to burn out, you're going to get sloppy, and you're going to miss key things. You need to make sure that you are giving yourself time to pull back and think through problems.

I'm not just talking about vacations (which are important). I'm more talking about making sure you have built in distance from the problem so you can think. For me, this often happens when I'm riding my bike to or from the office. I have 35 minutes where I don't have anyone asking for my help or input. I'm not being barraged with email or phone calls. It's just me, the road, and my bike. It allows me to take time to think through things critically.

Surrounded yourself with advisers

Good leaders understand they don't have all the answers. But they also know how to get to the right answers. They do this by surrounding themselves with advisers who are subject matter experts on problems that they will never have enough time to become an expert in. For example, the President of the United States has his cabinet and the joint chiefs. These are people whose job it is to know the answers to problems that the president is accountable for helping to solve.

Hold strong opinions very loosely

Good leaders have opinions and are willing to express them. This doesn't mean that good leaders are arrogant. Quite the contrary. Good leaders are able to recognize when their opinions are wrong and are able to adjust. But they're not afraid to go out on a limb and express what they believe is right.

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