Make your knowledge scalable.
There are a lot of resources, blog posts and research about the different forms of leadership and management. Moving into this kind of role I’ve been observing other people and what they do as well as introspecting as I try to grow and learn in a leadership position.
I take the view that my most effective role is as a servant leader. I want to help those in my teams grow and develop, and to do this I will give them the support, guidance and resources they need to be the best they can be in their roles. In order to do this I’ve needed to learn how to be an effective coach and how to delegate responsibly. The most self-organising the teams are, the better I’ve been doing my job. I work with incredibly bright people, and I truly get the most satisfaction out of seeing them succeed.
Looking forward, in my career I could side for a technical route, becoming a Technical Architect, or I could progress up the people management chain. In both directions, I want to approach the role the same way as I have this one. I never want to be an ivory tower.
What is an Ivory Tower?:
The phrase “Ivory Tower” in this case is someone who holds knowledge and expects those to go to them to access that knowledge.
Becoming an Ivory Tower can be unintentional. You have worked with a system longer than most, you’ve become an expert in a technology, you’ve never been taught how to coach or teach. It’s easy to slip into this pattern.
It can feel good to be the person people turn to for knowledge, but it doesn’t help teams or companies as a whole. Single points of failure are damaging.
To identify if you have reached this state, ask yourself: what would fail if I took some time off? Or what would slow down?
For these items, remove yourself as a single point of failure and make efforts to train others in the knowledge you hold. Pair with others and let them drive the decisions and processes, with you there to support them if they need it. Document what is in your head.
In all roles, share and delegate
Train those around you to make the decisions you’ve learnt to make in your role.
If you are an architect, help teams to assess their options. Teach them to consider what is important when doing so such as cost, security, scalability and resilience while assessing what balance is important for the products they are creating. Don’t create and assign a system too them, but instead get the teams buy in and involvement. Give them a say and advise and teach them through the process.
If you are a lead, spot the areas and practices your teams can improve in. Enable the members of your teams to be challenged and support them in getting the time and resources they need. Give them a safe space to innovate, learn and fail. Provide training and encourage pairing.
This is an opinion piece and I’m not saying by any means this is the only way to approach these roles. It’s the means I am going to try to abide to going forward.
I’m still learning leadership. I’m hoping to do the best I can for those I work with, and anything I can do to help them develop and grow in their own roles is hugely rewarding.