Be A Hero By Not Being A Hero

i'm just a normal person

I’ve witnessed a lot of heroics over my professional career. I’ve been a part of some of those situations requiring heroics (mostly MUCH earlier in my career when I could actually “do” things). If I’m honest with myself, I liked the recognition and the sense of accomplishment. They were also memorable and dramatic and made for great stories. Later stepping into various leadership roles, I’ve also praised the heroes in other situations, believing I’m doing good by expressing gratitude and providing valued recognition for a job well done. It’s only been relatively recently that I’ve realized the harmful effects of heroics that often go unacknowledged in light of the back-slapping, award-giving, and praise-heaping “you’re awesome” celebrations. And once the celebration has died down, we move on… in a worse position than we were before the situation that required the heroics.

If you’re prone to heroics or celebrating heroics, you’re hurting yourself and your organization. Here’s how.
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Book Review: The High-Velocity Edge

The High-Velocity Edge book cover

If you hadn’t already figured it out, we live in an increasingly complex world. More people. More moving parts. More interactions. More uncertainty. Some organizations, like Toyota, Alcoa, and the U.S. Navy’s Nuclear Power Propulsion Program, have learned how to manage that complexity in ways that have helped them separate themselves from the pack. In The High-Velocity EdgeDr. Steven Spear decodes the magic and gives us insights into how these “high-velocity” organizations have become who they are. Continue reading

My Leadership Approach

cliff hanger obstacle at Tough Mudder Tri-State 2010
“Cliff Hanger obstacle at Tough Mudder Tri-State 2010” by Dmitry Gudkov is licensed under CC BY 3.0

Becoming a better leader has become a lifelong journey and passion for me. Regardless of what my official role description or title says, I’ve realized being a leader is what my real job is. Leadership is an awesome privilege and responsibility so I want to be the best leader I can. I’ve also realized I’m far from perfect as a leader (just ask my team). But I’m a better leader now than I was last year and hopefully I’ll be a better leader next year than I am now. For me, getting better starts with getting clear on what I’m all about. And getting clear starts with writing stuff down, so here you are.
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5 Tips for Leading a DevOps Transformation in Your Organization

Red-Green Leaves from Garry Knight
“Red-Green Leaves” by Garry Knight is licensed under CC BY 2.0

I wrote for XebiaLabs on leading a DevOps transformation within your organization. It’s based on a white paper I co-authored with a bunch of really amazing people at Gene Kim’s DevOps Enterprise Forum in 2016. The post covers five simple (but not easy) tips for making progress on adoption of DevOps patterns and practices within your organization. The tips include understanding other people’s goals and the problems they face, identifying a target mindset, and then developing and executing a plan with the most effective tactics.

In retrospect, I’ve been writing a lot for other blogs and less so for myself. Whatever gets the word out and advances the cause, right?

Book Review: “The Manager’s Path” by Camille Fournier

The Manager's Path book cover

I wish I had read The Manager’s Path by Camille Fournier twenty years ago when I started down the path of being a manager. I could have avoided a lot of pain, confusion, and conflict for myself and those I was managing. I agree with much of what is in the book about what works mainly because I learned the hard way about what doesn’t work.
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How I Want My Team to Feel After Meeting with Me

gauges from Jeanne Masar
“Gauges” by Jeanne Masar is licensed under CC BY 2.0

A few years ago, I went through some executive coaching individually and as a group. In one of the individual sessions, the coach and I were talking about my team and the meetings I had with them. The coach asked me how I wanted someone on my team to feel after meeting with me. I had to think about it because I had never been asked that question before. And yet, it was an incredibly important answer to have. After a minute or two, I came up with the following answer.
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