Im currently listening to an awesome book called Extreme Ownership. I wish to share some thoughts on its teachings as I think they are very valuable in any industry and particularly the IT industry.
First off, this is the book (im using the Audible service for audio-books):
As the book was written by a couple of former Seal-team members, its very direct in its approach and the key notion is the fact that as a leader you must own up to the responsibility of the entire team!
If you have an underperforming team, stop making excuses and take responsiblity for the results of the team. Only when you go through this tough process will you be able to do anything about it.
If you have been in the IT industry for as long as I have, you will have encountered numerous leaders (on any level) try and play the blame-game, ousting subordinates for poor results and performance. Blaming everyone but themselves. These leaders are also the ones that take credit for any positive results achieved by any of the team-members or the team as a whole.
Continued failure to do so will inevitably end in a team thats at best working below peak performance and at the other end of the scale with a team thats falling apart (with team members leaving in rapid succession).
Believe in the mission:
If you, as a leader, dont believe in your objective/mission, those under you wont believe in it either. A less obvious point to this is whether or not you actually understand what the objective/mission is and more important: why.
I have experienced this on numerous occasions. A leader sets a goal and dont take the time to communicate why the goal has been set in the first place.
A common understanding in the team of the why will make believers of them. Without this, the team wont make the right decisions and the path to achieving the goal will be bumpy at best.
Check your ego:
This one is a major bulletpoint. All too often have I encountered people with a hugo ego problem in this industry. Often times, it is not backed up by any real skills or talent, but simple a way for the people to be “heard”. On the other hand, some of the most humble people I know in this industry are the most gifted, talented and skillfull people around.
So dont be a jerk. Be considerate and kind and to a certain extent, humble when you interact with others.
Ever sat in a meeting where an executive outlines a majorly complex, multistep action plan to get something done? - Yes, so have I.
Instructions and plans need to be simple in order to be agile and flexible. It also has the added bonus of “framing” the overall mission strategy.
Having a plan of action be simple, makes it easy for people to follow all the way down the ranks.
Prioritize and execute:
This one is particularly useful in troubleshooting sessions when something critical is not functioning.
Alot of different interests, personified by people yelling at you to fix it does not make it any better. It is important to find your bearing, select the highest priority task and get on with the job.
You cant fix every single piece simultanously, so dont even bother. Prioritize, excecute, rinse and repeat until the problem has been solved.
Control is good. To a certain degree.
When a leader wants to micromanage and have a say in everything thats going on, some alarm bells should start going off. Its very important to empower subordinates with a certain level of control.
Set some boundaries on the execution, but trust your employees to get the job done within those boundaries. This has the added effect of people taking ownership of the job and working effectively to achieve the desired result.
A good plan is a necessity for any action to be taken. This is especially true in IT projects
Unfortunally there are so many examples of a lack of a good plan that everybody can agree to and believe in, which results in huge budget overruns and delays in project execution.
A total lack of a plan is even worse, but still not uncommon. Leaders who will state a desired end-result without having a plan to achieve it, is really leading folks down a path of failure. This results in not only a project failure, but people who are left frustrated and demotivated in the future.
As you can probably tell, I simply love this book. It provides awesome guidance mixed with a great backstory on how the lessons were learned by these 2 Seals.
Next up is the “sequel” called The Dichotomy of Leadership.
Hope you found the information useful and I hope you have a chance to read this book.