Leaders, here are 46 ways you might be doing it wrong.

Updated: Nov 5, 2019

I have spent thousands of hours researching admirable (and horrible) leaders. It is amazing (and terrifying) to see the endless impacts a leader has on his/her team members, most often without even knowing it.


In the software industry, it is especially vital to focus on developer engagement - this means working tenaciously to ensure people are happy, excited, and motivated. However, I believe this advice applies to leaders across all industries.


I wrote this list of what (not) to do - hopefully some will resonate with you!


If you leave and the vision dies, you're doing it wrong. 


If team members are afraid to share their open and honest feedback with you, you're doing it wrong.


If you avoid feedback situations because they make you feel uncomfortable, you're doing it wrong. 


If you aren't working tirelessly to remove blockers that prevent people from making progress towards professional and personal goals, you're doing it wrong.


If your 1:1s start with "do you have an update on…" you're doing it wrong. 


If you 1:1s DON'T include "what can I help you with?" you're doing it wrong.


If you sense there are interpersonal issues on the team and you don't take responsibility to bring it up and resolve it, you're doing it wrong.


If someone on the team has a negative attitude that is rubbing off on other team members and you don't address it, you're doing it wrong.


If you ever devalue people in the process of delivering a solution, you're doing it wrong.


If you ever find yourself abstracting to non-human characteristics or behaviors when dealing with humans, you're doing it wrong. 


If you are only defining an Engineer's value by the number of code commits or lines of code, you're doing it wrong.


 If you refer to people as resources, and move them around as they are, you're doing it wrong. 


If you don't address low performers, you're doing it wrong.


If you hold on to your best team members and knowingly allow them to outgrow their environment, you're doing it wrong. 


If you are giving feedback that ISN'T framed in context, genuine, timely, specific, and actionable, you're doing it wrong.


If you aren't giving feedback AT ALL, you're doing it wrong. 


If you are avoiding a difficult situation to save yourself a short time of discomfort, you're doing it wrong.


If you aren't empowering your team members, you're doing it wrong.


If you are committing to work without your team, you're doing it wrong.


 If leaders and business partners aren't accessible to Engineers (and vice versa), you're doing it wrong.


If team members feel that they cannot influence and define things like the how, process, chosen tech, you're doing it wrong.


If you consider your ideas sacred, and hold an emotional attachment to them, you're doing it wrong.


If you are frequently offering up your unsolicited ideas for technical implementation, you're doing it wrong. 


If you are known as a Genius, and not a Genius Maker, you're doing it wrong (Multipliers, Liz Wiseman). 


If you aren't providing context to the team regarding organizational decisions and changes, you're doing it wrong. 


If Engineers don't understand and can't articulate the WHY, the VISION, the BIG PICTURE, you're doing it wrong. 


If you aren't sharing credit, you're doing it wrong. 


If you aren't associating names with accomplishments, you're doing it wrong.


If you aren't getting to know your team members and how they prefer to be recognized, you're doing it wrong. 


If you aren't loyal (taking the blame) when recovering from an ugly failure, you're doing it wrong.


During incidents, if you aren't trusting and shielding the team, asking how you can help, and (sometimes just) getting out of the way, you're doing it wrong.


If you incentivize or reward behaviors of prioritizing work over family / personal lives, you're doing it wrong. 


If you aren't celebrating (and reaping the benefits of) the diverse characteristics of each individual, you're doing it wrong. 


If you aren't doing everything in your power to ensure team members are able to be their authentic selves at work every day without question, you're doing it wrong.


If team members can't speak up and bring their concerns to you, you're doing it wrong.

If you hire only for past experience or skills, you're doing it wrong.


When hiring, if you don't consider personal values, work ethic, attitude, and willingness to admit and learn from past failures, you're doing it wrong.


If you don't include your own tone and (sometimes even opinions) when sharing hard messages, you're doing it wrong.


If you can't articulate and openly share your own stories of struggle, you're doing it wrong.

If you refuse to work on your time management and prioritization skills, you're doing it wrong.


If you say YES to everything, you're doing it wrong.


If you don't periodically audit yourself to ensure your time is spent on the RIGHT things, you're doing it wrong. 


If you aren't continually investing in your communication skills, you're doing it wrong. 

If you talk more than you listen, you're doing it wrong.


If you aren't truly present when you are listening, you're doing it wrong. (no glancing at cell phones, laptops, etc).


If you only pay attention to content and status updates (not behaviors and passion), you're doing it wrong.


If you don't work to adapt your communication style to various personality types, you're doing it wrong. 


If you aren't tenaciously committed to the growth of each individual, you're doing it wrong.


If you aren't proud of the answer to the question "Why do I want to be a leader?" you're doing it wrong.




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