When I was 9 years old, I’d play pick up soccer at recess. A couple of kids – the “leaders” would pick teams, and then we’d play. Since we were kids, the leaders of the teams were sometimes the best players, but usually the loudest kids. Leadership was short-lived, but effective for the purpose. I imagine that it works the same way with the 9-year olds of today.
But we’re not kids anymore.
Leaders today – the good leaders, still may not be the best players on the team, but they’re not the loudest anymore.
Leaders care about making progress in their work and in sharing their results. More importantly, they care about the work and progress far more than they care about their popularity. Good leaders are excellent decision makers (despite ambiguity), and are humble, honest, and accountable when they blow it. They know how to use conflict to draw out insights, and how to create harmony in a bad situation. Simply put, they lead.
I just wish we had more leaders. Leaders who cared more about progress than fighting decade-old arguments; leaders who strive to collaborate more than alienate; leaders more concerned about communication than being the loudest voice in the crowd; and leaders who foster and demand innovation from their followers.
But we don’t – or I can’t find them…but somehow I know they’re out there. Maybe they’re just quiet – or maybe they don’t know they’re leaders yet.
But we need them now.
Note: Sheesh! I’ve already heard from three people who think I’m picking on testing people. I guess it’s because testing people read this blog, but I wasn’t thinking about testing when I wrote this (although I suppose it does apply to leaders in testing).
I recently re-read Seth Godin’s Tribes and Patrick Lencioni’s The Five Temptations of a CEO. The latter (which is really about leadership) was the primary inspiration for this post – not the loud folks in the testing field.
Hope that slows down the hate mail.