What makes a good leader? What are the best practices leaders should follow? Learn from the experiences of others who have successfully built teams and companies in the software space.
Through the Story of Software podcast, we get the chance to interview and learn from CEOs, CTOs, Co-founders, and other tech leaders and strategists. We gather their insights to help you on your journey of becoming an effective leader. Tap into their experiences and hard-learned lessons to get a fresh perspective on how to lead and manage teams.
What are some of the principles leaders should follow? How can you motivate your team? What are the most common challenges and mistakes leaders make? Find the answers to these questions below!
Kevin Ruthen, CTO at Fora Financial:
Podcast episode: Impactful Technology Leadership
Q: From your perspective, what do you believe the general principles of good leaders in technology are?
Certainly collaboration is essential to that as well as truly transparent and honest communication. I am a big believer in embracing change and improvement for myself, and I want to reinforce that within my team as well.
Being an entrepreneur and acting as an owner while being accountable is another core technology leadership principle that leads to success. Look at ways to disrupt and always challenge the perception of the norm. I’ve seen the same trap many times with different organisations and businesses I’ve come across, especially with the technology team being quick to turn to their regular solutions and going into their comfort zones, as opposed to looking at doing things a bit differently.
Another principle I’d say to touch upon is really having empathy and being that voice of the customer, internally and externally. Really trying to put yourself in their shoes, being the champions of their voice and seeing things from their perspective and lens. I’d also add that I’m really someone with the technology leadership principle perspective, to lead by example, and to jump in the trenches with the team. Don’t just talk the talk, but walk the walk, and be there with them. This establishes confidence and sets up a way for folks to really embrace you as a leader and as someone that they want to follow.
And, coaching and candid constructive feedback, but being specific and giving examples of what you know, sort of like a sprint retrospective, what those resources did well, and where they need to be reinforced to continue, etc.
Lastly, I’ll just say, one of the most important aspects of tech leadership principles from my perspective is what I’ve learned over time; leadership from the side. How to effectively lead from the side and not always from the front. So what I mean by that is; this entails empowering and supporting others to be able to lead an initiative from the front, while you from the side as a leader provide guidance, encouragement, helping to remove those barriers, and making sure folks have what they need in order to succeed. […]
Q: Could you share with us your insights about how leaders can create a culture of high performance within technology teams?
Actively listening and engaging, emphasising collaboration, properly empowering the team, and establishing that regular cadence of constructive, candid feedback that I touched upon earlier, as well as learning from and celebrating failure fast.
So you want to make sure to reinforce the need to understand why and how projects are having a direct impact on the business. Don’t underestimate the importance of having a successful culture, and see where there are opportunities for what I call culture hacks – ways to tweak the culture and evolve over time. Because a key mantra that I fully embraced is that culture eats strategy for breakfast.
Stephanie Sheehan, VP of Engineering at Keelvar:
Podcast episode: Women In Tech Leadership
Q: What are some of the people management challenges that you encounter in terms of growing a startup company that’s expanding?
I think anyone in tech right now knows that attracting talent is one of the most difficult things. We’re seeing a boom in the industry, and obviously a shift as well for people to move away from office spaces to remote work. Then you’ve got the big resignation going on. People are re-evaluating what’s important to them, how they want to work, and where they want to work. That definitely seems to be affecting companies’ ability to attract talent.
But other than that, the most difficult thing with people is that we’re all human beings. So we all come with our individual sets of ambitions, egos, vulnerabilities, and drivers. So one of the biggest challenges is creating a safe environment for everybody to come together, collaborate and do the work that they love so that they’re feeling fulfilled and recognized. At Keelvar, we really believe in the individual and making it a safe space for the individual, taking the time to allow people to use their voice to create an environment that works for them. I think as a leader it’s a challenge for me because in order to make that happen for my team; I have to put my own biases or ego to the side and listen more, take in what people are saying, and allow the team to evolve and find their own path. That’s always kind of a tricky one.
Ron Danenberg, CTO at Kolleno:
Podcast episode: From Single Player to Multi-Player
Q: Are there mistakes that you and your co-founder would have made early on that you’ve learned from or anything you might have done differently?
I mean, of course, common mistakes, like access to legal responsibilities early on. Also, something that’s maybe a bit paradoxal is hiring too much and not enough. Sometimes you just hire people or you think you need to hire people but you realise you don’t actually need it but it’s more of a convenience. On the opposite side of that is not hiring enough. You always think you can manage it yourself, but agencies like yourself can be a very good complement, for example, for a one-time project.
When there’s something quite complex, don’t bother. Just don’t bother. You know, if you can afford it, sometimes when you have a complex project, just give it to someone else and they can bang their head against the wall for it and deliver the project. You pay them for it, and you don’t waste your time and you get it from someone who’s much better at it.
Not getting the right tools is also another mistake. The tools need to change as you grow. In the early days, you might speak over WhatsApp, but after you have a few team members, you can’t do it and you need something else, something better.
Tech Leadership Done Right
Having conducted over 50+ interviews with technology leaders on the Story of Software podcast, and through learning from our own efforts in building a company, we have summarised the key insights for the leaders of tomorrow.
Traits and behaviours of good leaders:
Good leaders have a significant amount of empathy towards their team members. Instead of judging, they try to understand the team’s needs and provide them with the space and tools to do their job effectively.
Taking accountability, learning from your own mistakes, and allowing others to learn from theirs is another important trait. Such leaders seem to evoke a sense of unity and common mission, which is vital for success in today’s remote working world.
Creating the right culture and environment for people to grow is crucial to a company’s ability to nurture and retain talent, and therefore its success. This needs to be enabled and supported by the right processes and tools.
At Zartis, we provide software consulting services that ease the load of technology leaders by optimising existing processes and restructuring teams to achieve maximum results. To learn more about the different strategies you can utilise to drive success across your organisation, reach out now!