Recently a subject of leadership pops up on Software Project Management pretty often, but usually I look at it from manager’s perspective. After all that’s something I do for living – managing teams. So yes, being a leader is the first and probably the most important role of manager (by the way, the post on role of manager turned into full-blown presentation which causes some buzz every time I deliver it). But leadership isn’t exclusively attached to management.
We are leaders in our workplaces, but we lead in different communities and informal groups as well. And even if we stick to our professional lives we can lead in technical areas or be typical people leaders. Leadership has many names. This was exactly the theme of my recent presentation on the subject which I delivered as a guest on Toastmasters contest.
A very interesting discussion followed the session. I used leadership definition I’ve heard from Mary Poppendieck: “Ability to attract followers is exactly what makes you a leader.” The definition neatly covers all sorts of tech leads – if I believe you’re knowledgeable and experienced person in a specific area I will come to pester you every time I need help with that matter. In other words I will follow you, which according to definition makes you a leader.
The argument against that approach is that we call it authority and not leadership and leadership is/should be discussed from a perspective of leading teams/groups. I can’t say I agree with this point of view as we’d have to cross out many leaders who build their follower base thanks to extraordinary knowledge and technical skills. What do you think?
By the way, after criticism I faced on my slides from AgileEE I built this slide deck differently. Happy now?