Leadership, the conflict

I thought I would comment on the problem of leadership because there are so many opinions and so many books, why not another little blog entry in the world of words.

Always gentle
Always decisive
Always open

I came up with these tenants, intentionally conflicting, to convey the personality profile of a leader. No leader can always be one or the other, the best leaders know when to switch and how to blend these ideas.

A team member presents an idea. The leader shows openness to listen and understand, then they have to switch, do they go to decisive to accept the idea and drive an action into the plan or to gently to discuss the idea until the team member sees its flaws.

It's never that simple though, a situation that distracts the team from a goal may require closed, firm, decisiveness. A good leader can be resolute and confident as opposed to closed and gentle.

Word games, yes, but these are the gray areas of human emotion, none of them absolutes, so a leader has to monitor guidelines and feel their way towards goals.

Your leadership goals might include, "be respected", "be approachable" or "I will always listen". Does this sound like a love fest? It's not a leaders goal to be liked but it helps. Leaders drive to a goal, the doors they break on the way are the tinder of their fire. This can conflict with being liked.

Your leadership goals might include more practical concepts like "will achieve goal within time line" or "maintain high customer rating". There is a cold, unemotional side to leadership that can help drive success but can loose some of the moral boundaries that we live by. Who should you fire when the budget is tight? When do you give up on the unteachable underachiever?

These are the sides of this game that I have the most difficulty with. I have always loved the teaching, mentoring and guiding parts of this job. I don't mind playing the motivational games to get more investment from a team. I do have a really hard time with knowing the right time and technique to cut.

I have a lot to learn about being a leader.


Two New Coding Mantras

What we tell ourselves drives what we are. A simple psychobabble statement. To a developer this drives what we produce.

Are you won't to say "that is good enough" or "sure that will work".

Or are you more likely to ask yourself "is this the best approach?" or "what would happen if we tried this alternative?".

Certainly, time and pressures push us back and forth between these attitudes so this isn't driven by personality alone but also represents an assessment of your personal priorities.

While reviewing code today I noticed two symptoms that represents trends of focus that the developer needed to address.

The first was the attention attributed to which class file they were typed their code in. Every word we type has a domain relevance that should force us to consider its appropriateness in the class we are editing.

The second is the tendency to think in instances instead of across time. The code I write today works today but will it work tomorrow or in another situation or environment. This actually occurred in a test for proving a date manipulation method worked and the test only worked yesterday.

So, from these two observations I decided I needed to more mantras to add to my preaching.

Every word in the correct class.

All tests work always.

They could probably be made a little more succinct and perhaps the second shouldn't be test specific but "that is good enough".