Where does leadership come from? What is leadership?
For some people, the answer to these questions is simple. It obviously comes from above. In the corporate world, this means from the CEO, vice president, director of marketing, or your direct manager. Of course, there are many times when leadership from above is lacking or is ambiguous. The messages aren’t coming or they’re not clear or they’re mixed.
However, there are more subtle types of leadership and there are things that you can do as a non-manager or low-level manager to provide it. This is one of the themes of my book, Design, Code, Test, Repeat – leadership takes many forms. I have always strived to play a leader role in my work. It’s not about standing on a soapbox and screaming about coding standards or design document format. It’s about keeping an eye on what’s going on in your group and in your company. It’s about questioning decisions that are made – it doesn’t have to be in a disrespectful way, just asking for clarification when things seem a bit strange to you. It’s about not just being a sheep and being pushed to the next problem to fix. It’s about keeping your head up and seeing above the treeline as well as keeping your head down and on the details of your project.
Having someone on your project who has these attributes is extremely valuable as chances are that your manager doesn’t have all of them and doesn’t have the bandwidth to cover all of the bases alone. Having leaders on the team makes everyone’s job easier. Shouldn’t that leader be you?