the reluctant tester

Perpetual learner of the craft of Software Testing,Servant Leadership and creating better Teams

Test Leadership

Leadership  has always confused me . At time it feels real and inspirational , other times it seems paradoxical and confuses me even further .

why ? that is another post .

what this post is about , is test leadership and how I have seen it being implemented or have implemented myself ( during the precious little i was allowed to )


Test Leadership through :

1. Example : clichéd but very hard to follow . One of my favorite modes of leadership . Demonstrate to your flock as to how to do things by doing them excellently .

Pros : You are the sun of the team and you would create other stars in the team and lift the performance level of the team.

Cons : You could overawe , demoralize  or make people green with envy . If implemented without care could be counter productive / lead to under performance . and someone can poison your food one day .

2.Direction: Point your team in the “right” direction and let them do it .

Pros : Team will falter , learn ( you need to make sure ) , improve and perform

Cons : Risk of failure . Leader needs to take a call on risk vs cost of failure .

How do you know that the direction is “right” ?

3. Delegation : Just assign stuff and compile beautiful reports.

Pros : Umm…

Cons : hard to gain your team’s respect.

4. Servitude : Just do what the test manager or project manager says . If something goes wrong you have some big fish to blame.

Pros : You stay on your manager’s right side. Avoid conflict and stress.

Cons : You can not keep everyone happy , so you might end up with a very unhappy and frustrated team .

5. Seduction : Can be implemented literally to varying degrees of success. Also means cajoling , coaxing your team from time to time , to make them do unpopular things .

Pros : Success in implementing thorny stuff

Cons : You might use this to implementing things which you yourself do not believe in or stand for . You just give in arm twisting from higher up . Paradox ?

How is it different from sugar coating bitter pills ?

6. Proxy : You are the figurehead !

Pros : If the person ( who is pulling your strings ) is brilliant then it is honeymoon

Cons : Honeymoon can turn into a Freddy Kruger nightmare

Wake up and take control !

7.Diplomacy:  You are a PR champion . Right friends in the right places who give you the right advice.

Pros : Smooth sailing if you have the team to churn it out.

Cons : You could be stuck alone when the ship starts sinking.

8.Discussion: You are a great debater , you can reason and convince people . You like to win and make people shut up.

Pros : You win

Cons : Things turn ugly when you are wrong .

9. Balls :  Show some . Dont be a limp

Pros : You defend your team and the team stands for you. “answers your call ”

Cons : Establishment can shunt you out.

I think leadership is varying shades of ALL the above .

In addition to the above mode , Luck and professional relationships play a crucial role.

What do you guys say ?

6 responses to “Test Leadership”

  1. Really nice and realistic post
    Most of them apply generic and applicable to any kind of leadership, not just testing.
    Keep writing good stuff

  2. Thanks for your encouragement …

  3. I think every point falls under one of the 2 approach – Positive and Negative, some might argue a neutral approach as well but rarely human intentions are neutral.
    In my career I have worked with many different leaders and always wondered what kind of leader he is, so this post brings up quite interesting topic. From my experience I can say, what ever approach u take different people in the team would take each one differently. No approach works well for all the members of the team for the simple reason that different people have different motivations be it your seniors or followers so call should be based on personal judgment.
    The leaders which I have admired in the field of testing constituted of following ingredients.
    1. Empathy – Dont forget what your feelings were when u were indivisual contributor.
    2. Have some balls – It takes great courage to represent your team in front of management and at the same time keeping management happy (I am not talking about trade union leaders 🙂 )
    3. Last but not the least- Try to be a good human being – Being a good human being it automatically creates a aura and charisma and it work wonders in achieving what ever abhor task u have in your hand.

    1. Thanks Karan …

      valuable comments , yes I completely forgot those aspect ( soft skills ) .

      Empathy – you are absolutely right . I think Gandhi hit the nail on the head when he said “be the change which you want to see in other people”

      Also your point about trying ot be a good human being , I was also thinking on the lines of “positive working relationships”
      If that sort of vibes exist in a team then it can achieve a lot .

      But I’m still confused about the paradox that I mentioned , how do you tackle scenarios where in you yourself do not agree with the changes being enforced from higher up ?
      Do you sort of strike a middle ground ? voice your resent to the management but still agree to implement . then when you come back to your team just honestly explain them what you did ?

  4. Like your post. If you do not mind, I would like to use an excerpt and the graphic of the ducks in my Avenues to Success Notes post of February 11, 2011 to illustrate that day’s quote, “A leader leads by example, whether he intends to or not.” – Author Unknown

    1. Sure Tom.
      go for it , and send me a link when you piece is done .

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About Me

I’m Sunjeet Khokhar

An experienced People Leader,Practice Lead  and Test Manager .

I am driven by the success of people around me, am a keen student of organisational behaviour and firmly believe that we can be better craftspeople by being better humans first.

CoNNECT with Me

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