Despite my best efforts, I periodically find myself running teams: usually only when anybody who could conceivably be better at it is unavailable. I’m not… terrible at it, but I’m not great either, and I get frustrated if I spend more of my time in meetings than writing code (which seems to often be the case when I take any kind of managerial position).
A conversation with my excellent coach this morning1 got me thinking about leaders I’ve worked alongside or under that I particularly admire. Especially those who’ve demonstrated skills that I don’t have, or that I’m weaker at, but that I could learn to improve. Those that came to mind include:
- Formerly at the Bodleian, my colleague Liz, who seemed to make project management look effortless: keeping track of dozens of moving parts while promoting a relaxed, creative atmosphere. I competed with her for a management role once; I’m so glad she got it, she did a much better job than I would have.
- Three Rings‘ head of development (who took over from me last year, allowing me to focus more on the technical aspects of my work) Beverley, who brings emotional honesty in professional environments. I admire the fact that they’ve got the courage to start a meeting by asking everybody present, for example, “what kind of weather represents how you’re feeling right now?”
- My team lead Bero at Automattic, who’s proactive support in putting his team first means I’ve always felt safe to speak my mind.
It’s perhaps inevitable that I’ll keep ending up in leadership positions, whether ir not I desire it!
But I’m optimistic that a greater awareness of the places I’ve got potential to grow as a person will help ensure that when it happens, I’m a better leader than I was the previous time.