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19 Pitfalls of Technical Leadership

by Deborah Hartmann Preuss on Jun 19, 2006 |
Hacknot's list of Great Mistakes in Technical Leadership, while not particularly intended for an Agile audience, contains some sage advice - good leadership is not restricted to Agile teams. As always, Agile teams still need to balance advice from traditional sources against Agile values and principles.

The article goes into detail on each point, but here is the basic list, as a starting point:

Mistake #0: Assuming the team serves you
Mistake #1: Isolating yourself from the team
Mistake #2: Employing hokey motivation techniques
Mistake #3: Not providing technical direction and context
Mistake #4: Fulfilling your own needs via the team
Mistake #5: Focusing on your individual contribution
Mistake #6: Trying to be technically omniscient
Mistake #7: Failing to delegate effectively
Mistake #8: Being ignorant of your own shortcomings
Mistake #9: Failing to represent the best interests of your team
Mistake #10: Failing to anticipate.
Mistake #11: Repeat mistakes others have already made
Mistake #12: Using the project to pursue your own technical interests
Mistake #13: Not maintaining technical involvement
Mistake #14: Playing the game rather than focusing on the target
Mistake #15: Avoiding conflict
Mistake #16: Putting the project before the people
Mistake #17: Expecting everyone to think and act like you
Mistake #18: Failing to demonstrate compassion

One caution worth repeating here, for team leads and for everyone on teams with a flatter everyone-is-a-leader structure, is this:
Pair programming seems to be most appealing to those who like to chat about their work ... continually. An excessive focus on group consensus-based decision-making for all technical aspects of the project, even the trivial ones, may be a sign that a Technical Lead is more concerned with the sociology of the project and their place amongst it, than with leadership and making efficient use of people's time and effort.
Apparently, even collaboration needs to be kept in balance, to avoid the descent into the other MDD (Meeting Driven Development), the antithesis of healthy Agile collaboration.

For those who prefer patterns to antipatterns, here are some useful references:

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Nice by Sandeep Khurana

Nice. Just would add one thing, managers in the project with no technical skills should stay away from day to day workings of the project.

Hacknot's been down... by Jason Carreira

I haven't been able to get there to read this... Been hours now...

Re: Hacknot's been down... by Deborah Hartmann

Me too. Have they been (gasp) hacked? :-D

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