Leading by example

I found this post on technical leadership particularly useful because it’s my role at work. Humility, discretion, tact, and willingness to “walk the walk” are necessary to succeed as a leader. The only thing I would add to the author’s list is the importance of patience in leading development staff. You can follow all the advice and still not see changes for awhile. I’ve been in that situation before, and always found it frustrating.

The comments on the post were enlightening as well, particularly this one by Greg Askew:

“Individuals are responsible for fixing themselves. Leading by example is a noble concept, but at the end of the day everyone is accountable for their own performance.”

The quote is a great reminder that as managers, we can only influence–not control–employees. Askew makes two other strong arguments about hiring and motivation. His latter point is echoed by Steven McConnell’s summary of classic mistakes and by Jim Collins in Good to Great. Undermining people’s motivation (and/or hiring people who aren’t self-motivated) can be counted on to yield a substandard result in the end.

The full article that inspired Jeff Atwood’s post is an excellent read as well.