Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Technical Leadership - Your Approach Matters

This writeup is not for those who don't want to do their part to be able to understand and grasp the knowledge. Leadership is not about what you know from reading, it's what you've experience that counts.

I remember the first time I joined the management circle, I was clueless about how I may drive the team to execute the tasks and accomplish the deliverables. Being the new kid in town, it took me a while to mix and match the leadership approach I know to the environment I was at. It wasn't easy! In every experimentation, someone has to pay the price -- either you as the leader or your people, sometimes it's both parties that have to deal with the consequences.

As I grow more people and one-by-one lift them up to the world of leadership, it's important that as early as now, they are introduced to the type of leadership available for them to embrace. Know that I am not here to tell people what to choose but instead, let them think which one works best for them, in the current environment they're at.

Before explaining the quadrants, as a little assignment to those who are reading this article -- can you tell me why too much on one side is bad? (See image 1.0)

image 1.0

The quadrants:
  • Autonomy - It's the fact that your people are doing things themselves without even you telling them to do it.
  • Order - It's the fact that your people know who are allowed to call the shots. Commanding your men to do things as required -- but not limited to the leader.
  • Authority - It's the fact that your people will only honor your words and won't take any tasks without your approval.
  • Control - It's the fact that your people fully depends on you and won't have the option to say what they have in mind.

The approach:

By just looking at the images, one should be able to comprehend the difference between the four approaches. It's better for me not to explain (spoonfeed) this to you, as I believe that exploring the in-depth answers to your questions, by yourself -- will lead you to more question that will somehow give you total satisfaction, once answers attained.

NOTE: I'm just here to give directions, not instructions. And trust me, it's more fulfilling when you find the answers yourself.

CLUE: In the images below, can you tell which one is Aristocracy, Bureaucracy, Micromanagement, and Democracy? Aside from the four types, you have to be aware that not all combination will work -- discover it yourself, why.

Type A

Type B

Type C

Type D

The bonus notes:
If you're working in the tech industry and is surrounded by a group of engineers, creatives, innovators, and leaders -- most likely you'll end up giving them the "free will" to do their job. As what the late Steve Jobs said: "We didn't hire smart people and tell them what to do, we hire smart people so they can tell us what to do".

I'm not telling you that democracy is what you should go for, but in most cases, that is the approach that works best for a performing team. From the time I've been leading people, there are two things I keep in mind when thinking about work; (1) people love to be able to express themselves on what they do, so they value freedom the most and (2) people like to be trusted, so they value freedom the most.

Hope these notes will give you a sense of direction as you go along on your leadership journey. If you haven't read my blog about "measuring leadership", I suggest you check it out!