Have you ever heard about Alexander the Great, Napoleon, J. F. Kennedy, Martin Luter King... I bet you have. These are great historical leaders. These names are the first coming to our mind when we think about leadership. When we add to it hollywood movies main characters we consider leaders to be heros with strong charisma and excelling talent to give talks. This stereotype we bear in our heads is very difficult to chase. But wait a little... Is this what we should stick to talking about technical leaders?
I have done a survey among software developers and technical leaders with questions about characteristics of a specific technical leader they appreciate and met in their life. How do you think what are they?
Technical leader sample actions (from survey answers):
- asking questions in order to analyze problematic situation
- not forcing a particular solution
- isolating team from the world
- engaging especially in critical situations
- reminding a goal
- saying "what is to be done is important but don't worry too much"
- saying "let's focus on solutions more than problems themselves"
Sample skills and attitudes:
- knowledge and experience
- risk taking
- goal orientation
So... there is not much about being a brave hero. Technical leaders must be great problem solvers and team supporters instead. And most great leaders I met are like that. They are focused on people in their team and are committed to do the great work.
As technical leaders we must take care of THINGS BEING DONE, REMOVE IMPEDIMENTS and CREATE ENVIRONMENT where team members wants to belong to. Unlike charisma these skills can be possesed in reasonable time and you don't need to have them inborn. And this is a good news.
For those who love models I can tell that there are different types of leadership (and of course there are many different models). The stereotype we are used to is called a charismatic leadership but this is not the only style. There is also transformational, visionary, transactional and servant leadership (you can read more about it here). What we need most in our industry is a mix of transformational and servant leadership.
(top image source: http://www.dccomics.com/blog/2013/04/02/superman-and-batman-best-friendsand-brothers)