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Tech Leaders - Recognise These Leadership Errors?

Jul 01, 2022


Whether you are a rookie or an experienced Tech Leader, we all make mistakes.  


We are all human; making mistakes is what we do, and mistakes can even be made when they are planned out or well-intentioned. It is about how you handle them and learn from them. Repeating the same mistake is problematic, particularly when you do not look into the root cause of why it is happening.


Often when we make a mistake, we panic and consider how it will impact our career goals, whether we will retain our jobs, end up with a disciplinary, whether it will affect end-of-year performance reviews... I am sure you can imagine all the other ways we will worry ourselves with statements like these!


What you might not consider, though, is the impact of your mistakes on those of your Tech Teams, so this week we will look at some of these Tech Leader blunders and also how you can correct them.



Avoiding the truth

This is one of the worst Tech Leader screwups. You are setting yourself up for a fall when you start lying. There are three main reasons why people avoid the truth:

Beliefs - people will seek information that will validate their beliefs, and people will avoid the truth if it disproves their views;

Action - people may avoid the truth if it means they have to complete actions they do not desire and often bury their heads in the sand.

Emotions - it may cause some unpleasant feelings for you, as Tech Leader, or for your Tech Team that you don’t want to upset.

Avoiding the truth will likely cause you to lose the trust of the Tech Team, your line manager, customers, suppliers, and anyone you work with. If your Tech Team cannot believe what you say, how can you expect to lead them successfully?


To avoid this mistake:

At all costs, be honest. Yes, it may impact your popularity, but the thing is, you are not in a Tech Leader role for popularity; you are there to get a job done. Be open and honest so that you can be respected and trusted as an awesome Tech Leader.

Ensure the timing and location are appropriate, as sometimes being honest can be upsetting and they may react in a different way.



Refusing to follow your own advice 

If you are prepared to go against your own advice, you will appear incongruent (where something just seems not quite right), and your Tech Team will be left wondering why you don’t practice what you preach when you do the opposite.


To avoid this mistake:

Lead by example and do what you say.  

 It shows that you believe in what you are saying. Your Tech Team will see that you’re congruent and follow through. If you aren't prepared to follow your own advice, don’t give it to others.

If you’re unsure about giving particular advice, don’t give it. 



Compromising your values

As an awesome Tech Leader, you must have solid values - these are your values, not what someone else thinks is important for you! 

Your inability or lack of desire to uphold your values makes it appear that you lack integrity.  If you appear to lack integrity, you will have a tough time getting your Tech Team to follow you, and others in the organisation will not rely on you.


To avoid this mistake:

To understand what your values are, consider what is really important to you as a Tech Leader. (I’m not going into whether these are ‘towards’ or ‘away from’ values at this point, just know that where they are ‘away from’ values, you will keep finding that these will keep occurring until you have cleaned them up)

Whatever your values are, this is what you will need to fulfil within your role as an awesome Tech Leader consistently. You won’t need to tell your Tech Team what’s important to you; they will know just by observing your actions.



Failing to have the tough conversations 

Tough conversations are an essential part of effective leadership. While having good conversations with your Tech Team is easy, you will need to have challenging conversations too. If you avoid the difficult conversations, there will be some fallout. You will appear a pushover, boundaries will be breached, and retaining respect will disappear from your Tech Team, Execs and other colleagues.


To avoid this mistake:

Sometimes you just need to tell others how it is, and you will need to brace yourself and do this without worrying about their feelings. If you have followed the steps above about being open, honest, congruent, following through, and acting with integrity, then the conversations will be much smoother.



It’s time to fully step into your role as an awesome Tech Leader! 

Take some time to reflect on your previous mistakes, and consider what you can learn from these.  Look for any recurring issues, and take time to consider why, what and how the issue occurred, then consider what could have happened if you had acted differently.

If you haven’t started adopting these principles already, start now. One day, you will need these to lead your Tech Team.


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