Involve, Don't Tell
If you just want code, go to my GitHub profile. There’s plenty of it there.
An interesting thing about people, they generally don’t like being told what to do. “Go clean your room!” That always had a sense of dread about it, and was usually preceded by my full first and middle names.
One of the things about being a leader is that you lead, and leaders cannot lead by simply giving orders. A leader is only successful when they are able to bring others along with them. And leaders often fail when they just dispatch commands to those around them (whoa, he said dispatch and command, this might actually be about writing code – sorry, it isn’t).
You are standing in a room. There are two doors, and you are looking at a wall with a sofa. Suddenly, one of the doors opens (seriously, I see the intrigue on the face of you gamers out there, chill…) and your partner walks into the room.
You shout, “Hey, get the hammer and put a nail in the wall above the sofa.”.
“Why?” is their response.
“And that, is why you fail.”
You see, your partner has already begun to question your plan and now you have to explain it after you’ve already started. Depending upon how the dialog unfolds, you may even become defensive – adding tension and stress to the situation.
What happened is simple – you didn’t bring your partner along with you. You just told them to get a hammer and put a nail in the wall. What you left out was that you bought a painting, decided that above the sofa was the perfect spot for it, and were already giving orders. You made the decision on your own, and now you have to explain it, along with defending your reasoning on where the painting will be placed (your poor taste in art is beyond the scope of this article).
Let’s try this again
and this time, with feeling…
You are standing in a room. There are two doors, and you are looking at a wall with a sofa. Suddenly, one of the doors opens and your partner walks into the room.
You say, “I bought this painting today, I just loved it the moment I saw it. I was thinking it might look great over the sofa, what do you think?”.
“I think it would be perfect, let me get the hammer and we’ll hang it together.”
This time, your partner not only feels like they were part of the decision, they’re volunteering to help.
Remembering to involve those around you requires discipline. A leader is often recognized for having sound judgement and excellent decision making. One might assume this translates into a leader making all the decisions on their own. While a leader may have a preferred path, it’s important to involve the team as early as possible to ensure there is enough context, allowing the team to fully understand the situation. The team may arrive at the same conclusion, or they might even propose a solution better than the leader’s original plan. Either way, everyone involved will have a shared understanding of the situation, and make their own supporting decisions within that context.