VB.NET Link Round-Up for 6/26/07My.Computer.FileSystem Shortcuts for VB.NET - Part III

Marine Corps Leadership Secrets - Part II

July 26th, 2007

USMCIn this second article in my series I’ll continue my explanation of how to apply United States Marine Corps leadership traits and principles to software development team leadership. (You can read Part I here.) In this part I’ll be discussing the traits of Decisiveness, Dependability, Initiative, and Tact.

Decisiveness

Nobody likes to work for someone who leaves important decisions up for debate by the group or who simply leaves them up in the air, unmade. Nor do they like to work for someone who is inconsistent or wishy-washy. Managers who publicly vacillate over making key decisions usually lose the respect of those underneath them. However, people will respect a leader who can make a decision, tell everyone the decision in clear, confident, terms and then stick to it. They’re a person who says what they mean and means what they say.

This doesn’t mean that you should be inflexible about the decisions you make though. Situations change and, when they do, a leader is required to decisively act upon the new information. For example, a development tool a lead decided upon isn’t working right due to serious bugs that the vendor isn’t going to fix anytime soon. Instead of muddling on toward failure, the decisive leader takes steps to fix the problem quickly and save the project.

Being decisive also means be accountable for your decisions. If you make the call, you are responsible for it. Don’t pass the buck to your team members, peers or your management.

Dependability

Can your team depend on you? Can your management depend on you? Dependability works both ways.

To be dependable to your management is really basic Work 101 stuff. It means you show up on time, that you don’t make excuses or complain without a good reason, and stay on the job until it is completed. If you aren’t doing these things for your management, then why should you expect those you’re supposed to be leading to do the same for you?

How can you be dependable to your team? You do this by first of all being an example as I mentioned above. You are the role model they’ll look to, for good or for bad. However, it goes beyond just that. It means that you are willing to stand with them if there is an emergency that needs to be handled or if there is extra work needed to complete a project. If the team is coming into the office over the weekend to work you should be there too if at all possible. If there is a disaster, like a failed database, you are there working to correct the problem, even working through the night and into the next day if necessary. Your dependability will inspire those working for you while shirking your responsibility will, over time, demoralize your team.

Initiative

If you only do what you’re told to do and wait for others to take action, well, you aren’t much of a leader. Take a look around and see what needs to be done to either help you reach your goals or that’s keeping you from reaching them. For example, if someone on your team is having a problem with their PC, take the initiative and help them get it fixed. If there is a new tool that would greatly speed the development of your project, take the initiative and get it in for testing. Are there classes you and your team could take? Get them signed up.

Don’t be satisfied with the status quo. Learn to think outside the box and to solve problems in new ways.

Tact

Tact. It means a sense of what to do or say in order to maintain good relations with others or to avoid offense. You may be surprised that this is on a Marine Corps leadership list after seeing movies or TV shows about boot camp. You see a lot of insults and screaming and yelling there. But, courtesy and respect plays an important role within the chain of command once a Marine leaves boot camp. Likewise, the courtesy you show to your team and to your management is important as well.

When you assign work, do it in a courteous, direct and personable manner. This helps insure the work will be understood and will be carried out correctly and with enthusiasm. If you give out assignments in a careless or brusque manner it might very well have the opposite effect.

Tact also applies to how your respect your team member’s time, property, and feelings. Wasting their time in useless meetings, not respecting their property, or hurting their feelings, intentionally or unintentionally, will hurt your authority within the team.

The simple management axiom is to praise in public and reprimand in private. This is one of the key ways to be tactful with your team. A public reprimand or even one that is private in name only can seriously damage your credibility within the team and harm morale. If you must reprimand, make sure that you are fair, firm and friendly about it.

With your managers, you should approach them in the manner that you would want to be approached if you were in their position.

Here are the other parts of this series:

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Entry Filed under: Development Teams


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