Software Leadership

Some things I enjoy reading just because they “ring true”…kind of like reading Steve McConnell’s software development books like Code Complete and Rapid Development –

Code Complete       RapidDevelopment

they are chock full of the usual “truths” to software development and common-sense lessons that we still see get violated quite often – so reading these books tend to get me back to center – a few weeks ago Steve McConnell hosted a webinar over the lunch hour on the topic of “The 7 Rules of Software Leadership” – his 7 rules are listed here:

The 7 Rules of Software Leadership

  1. Be sure you are going somewhere
  2. Take responsibility
  3. Make Decisions in the face of ambiguity
  4. Put the Organization First
  5. Be Passionate about your company’s business
  6. Become a student of Communication
  7. Treat your staff as volunteers

Now the webinar was directed at those in a position of leadership in the software field – which is where I find myself the past few years after dodging it so successfully for many years before that – I still laugh at interviewees that say they “hope to be managing teams in a few years and not coding for the rest of their lives” – because no one in their right mind wants to manage software developers, it is just sometimes people get forced into it to serve the companies needs.

Regarding Point #1 from the above list – Steve made the point that Leadership does not equal Management….Management is simply being in charge of people whereas Leadership is taking those people somewhere – I like that distinction.   That and #5 resonated with me.  Passion is always the difference it seems – I have been fortunate to work with passionate high performers to understand what a huge competitive advantage that is.

The past year I have really enjoyed Rajiv Popat’s blog named ThousandtyOne for some of the same reasons I enjoy McConnell’s books – because they ring true and make me think about things.  I enjoy his sharing of hiring mistakes, software projects (both good and bad) and just his take in general on software development.  So I have been watching with interest the book on software development he is writing and having readers like me review as he releases each chapter at a time – it’s fun providing feedback and corrections while watching his project take shape and challenges me to get more things done that I have had on my To Do list for far too long.

I had a college professor (Prof. Michael Boucher) who had recently been in the workforce prior to teaching us, and one of his quotes he said a lot was “if you can’t be replaced, you can’t be promoted” as a warning to all of us heading into the workforce.  That is still great advice for any developer but as I wrote about last year when discussing Tom Brokaw’s quote “It’s easy to make a buck. It’s a lot tougher to make a difference”, I’ll still maintain the best advice for any college graduate or any software developer is this:

Want to make a difference – solve a problem, want to make a big difference, solve a big problem

I still believe it is the most important thing that can change your career (and only your failure to work as a team member can derail it).

Have a great last week of 2010.




About bradosterloo

.NET Software Developer working for Innovative Systems, LLC in Mitchell, SD
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5 Responses to Software Leadership

  1. rajiv says:

    Put the Organization First.

    Not sure if I agree with this one. #grins. Organizations are made up of people. Put people first and you can almost never go wrong.

    Selfishness, where you create mutual “win win” situations has its own virtues too.

    • bradosterloo says:

      I agree…this point is the one that could definitely be taken the wrong way….but a team approach to identifying and then taking on the challenges an Organization faces is where the “win wins” will be found I think

      How is the book going by the way?

  2. rajiv says:

    “It’s easy to make a buck. It’s a lot tougher to make a difference”

    I wouldn’t say it’s easy. It’s a different lifestyle. Just making a buck tends to become boring after you have done it for a while. Making a difference is so much more fun.

    • bradosterloo says:

      Rajiv, in my nearly 20 years of work experience, I have seen more than my fair share of coworkers in various jobs just getting by, doing the bare minimum….getting a job and doing the least required, never wanting to be the one responsible for anything, and spending all day in CYA/excuse mode – oh yeah, its easy to simply make a dollar. I just can’t imagine that it brings any satisfaction which would drive me crazy since work is where you will spend at least 1/3 of your life.

  3. Pingback: Learning Project Management from the Steves | The View from Office 227

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