The 5 Minute Tech Break : Autonomy

Happy Friday!

A new voice with you today for this weeks "5 Minute Tech Break" and I want to look at the topic of staff autonomy ...

A big challenge for tech leaders, particularly those moving from a technical into a managerial role, is learning the art of delegation and managing others to achieve the optimal experience for the individual and as a natural benefit of that, for the team.

Having worked and managed teams around the world, I've seen remarkable differences in management styles and as a result, in the output of teams they lead. 

Here are some articles and thoughts on the topic ...

Kat Marasigan

Article of the Week :
MYOB: How To Avoid Becoming A Nosey Manager

I started my career in a payment service gateway almost 10 years ago. Our line manager created an environment where everyone feels home. We go to lunch together, we watch movies during Saturdays, everyone's invited to Sunday BBQ's but my life outside work suffered.

I was skipping my sister's art exhibits, I had no idea what the old folks were cooking for Sunday, and my cat took full ownership of my bed. All these because I was afraid to say "No" because I was new and the invites came from the boss.

It's a long tough learning curve for me to learn to refuse an invite. And I must also admit too, that ever since becoming a lead, I was at some point a nosey stage mum instead of a manager. 

Climbing up the corporate ladder made me see from a different perspective how people's lives outside work can gravely affect their mental and psychological well-being; thereby also affecting work.

In this week's CTO Academy blog, MYOB: How To Avoid Becoming A Nosey Manager, we looked into the intrusive boss and the non-negotiables that need to be in play, when managing a team.


Alignment and Autonomy: The Power Couple To Productivity

If you want to have a successful autonomous team, you have to trust them unconditionally.  
"It doesn't make sense to hire smart people and then tell them what to do; we hire smart people so they can tell us what to do." - Steve Jobs

If your recruitment process is hitting the money, then you will have the right people (I would say resources, but that's always a challenge) in your team to complete all the tasks. What you must do is empower them, by leveraging on their strengths and developing on their areas for improvement. 

In agile, we give development teams full authority to determine the deliverables. The product owner should be organising them in a burn-down chart and monitoring the progress -- a facilitator, not a dictator! 

Authoritarianism will not bring happiness or productivity to a talented team.  Top down instruction will likely stifle, rather than unleash their full potential.

Gone are the days when leaders have to know it all and decide for the entire team. The culture of agile is collaborative, rather than having one lead that everyone blindly follows.

Alignment is about ensuring all teams are heading in the sam direction, towards the same goal and bought into the same vision.

Transparency in communications has a vital role in ensuring that alignment is observed. From daily stand-ups to plannings to retrospectives, there should be a constant reminder of what the goals are, their quality standards, as well as continuous improvement initiatives.

This article on 7 Areas To Create Alignment and Support Autonomy, gives you some tricks of the trade, in honing a highly productive development team. 

Leadership Lessons from Game of Thrones :
"A Leader is a Servant"

OK, I confess, I'm a huge GOT fan.  

I've read the books as well as watched the series.

It's relevance here? ... well, GOT is a fundamentally a story of strategy and tactics. Everyone's fighting for the Iron Throne and we've seen the best and worst of everyone's leadership skills in the game. 

[For those of you not interested or haven't watched the last episode yet... look away now.  For the rest ...]

The Realm has been waiting for a ruler who would "break the wheel". Someone who will free the people, empower the ones at the bottom, and get rid of poverty. Sounds like an old song, right?

Who wouldn't want someone as a leader who empowers you and gives you full autonomy over your destiny. Someone who will genuinely serve you?

This week's episode, the finale, brought mixed reactions from fans as they are shipping on two viable candidates to rule the seven Kingdoms -- Jon Snow a.k.a Aegon Targaryen and Daenerys Targaryen -- who (for those of you who are still with me) didn't sit in the Iron Throne.

But what made these two loveable?

What did they do to inspire their followers to offer their lives blindly to these leaders?

What made GOT fans sign petitions to have the last season re-written because most wants either one of them on the throne? 

In Leadership Lesson from Game of Thrones we see an extension of the "GOT as leadership module" with a glimpse into the characters' leadership styles and pitfalls.

Quote of the Week

"I am not nothing in the sense of emptiness, but am the creative nothing, the nothing out of which I myself create everything as creator."

--Max Stirner, "The Unique and Its Property"

If you'd like to dig deeper into our written and communication skills, then you can do worse than visit our ever growing archive of '5 minute tech breaks'.

Until next time ... have a wonderful, safe and happy weekend, wherever you are in the world.