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          4 ways to become a leader without anyone's permission


          Without sugarcoating, every one of us has at least once (per day) realized that our own organizational skills aren’t functioning ideally. What separates leaders from regular civilians is how they respond in those exact situations, regardless of the position they may find themselves in.

          It’s very simple. Civilians will, depending on their character be loud, or passive-aggressive, comment or keep quiet, blindly keep to their inefficient practices or in protest, refuse to work a certain way, but what they all have in common is that they won’t take the initiative and own the problem, they’ll rather wait for someone else to solve it. Leaders will do the exact opposite, take initiative and start the search for a solution.

          Taking initiative doesn’t require having a title. Anyone can be a leader. In the text below, we will show you four ideas you could start applying as early as tomorrow, without anyone’s special permit, which will in turn nominate you for the role of a leader.

          1. Create an Impediment Backlog, visualize a list of obstacles/problems which you have identified in your work. As always, visualization is the first step towards the solution. Through visualization, you communicate the problems to everyone interested, become aware of their existence, can prioritize them, ask for help, or you can monitor their solving. A priority list enables you to focus on the most important problems.
          2. Start a Community of Practice. Communities of Practice are informal groups of people within an organization gathered around a common subject which is of interest to all members of the group. The members exchange their knowledge and skills and work together towards a set goal. Do you think that your organization would benefit from higher quality software testing? Find like-minded coworkers and recruit them in „Community of Practice testing “and work together in improving the testing process. You can work out the way you will work, everything is allowed, you can grab a morning coffee, you can find some time during the day, you can talk after work when you grab some beers… the only important thing is that all members are in the group willingly, and are truly interested in the subject.
          3. Make retrospect. We talked about retrospect a lot, and they are the foundation of a continued organizational improvement. The results of retrospectives are specific actions which lead to improvement, which can sometimes mean simply identifying problems. In that case put them in your Impediment Backlog and plan out their solution.
          4. Ask for feedback. We all reach dead ends, and when we do we often don’t see our own negative attitude. Others will rarely point it out for us because in their eyes, it makes them obtrusive and aggressive, or they’re scared of being seen as that. That’s why you should actively ask for feedback from your coworkers and work on self-improvement of your personal and organizational flaws. When you’re actively asking for feedback, you’re admitting that you’re not perfect, which makes you seem more human in the eyes of your coworkers. You’re strengthening a culture in which it is okay to admit that things aren’t perfect, but also a culture which also instills a will for improvement. Avoid exclusively giving feedback without asking for it as well, because that will make you look like a wise guy, and no one likes working with those kind of people.

          These ideas will reveal space for improvement, and it is then important to be persistent, because leaders don’t give up, they push on forward until they reach their goal.

          “Great works are performed not by strength but by perseverance.” –Samuel Johnson

          Ivan is Director of Engineering at CROZ, curator of 0800-DEVOPS newsletter, podcast host and O'Reilly author contributing to "97 Things Every Cloud Engineer Should Know". His special areas of interest cover DevOps culture, sociotechnical nature of software delivery and cloud native architectures. Particularly interested in leadership and organizational change, he is helping organizations align business and tech, focus their efforts, and essentially work smarter, not harder. You can follow him on Twitter as @ikrnic.


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