Letting Go……

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There are generally 4 types of technical director/leader/cto etc.

  1. Founder technical director. Often a dev leader who’s job progresses outside of this due to growth.
  2. Operational leader. Someone who reports to a CIO and just runs the day to day.
  3. Deep thinker leader. Someone who concentrates on innovation and most likely does a lot of R & D work.
  4. Customer facing director. Someone who sells the technology to others. A salesman with a good amount of tech knowledge.

I am number 1 (I am not a founder – I will explain this) and many start up CTOs, Technical Directors or IT Leaders are.

Start ups are THE most exciting type of work in my opinion. When you join, there is enormous amounts of potential of fast paced progression. There is also enormous amounts of project ownership and innovation. To the type of person who is passionate about their craft, dedicated to creating new and exciting ideas but also passionate and dedicated to evolving their ideas to higher levels; they thrive. I’m hooked!

When I joined my present position, I was hired Lead Developer (of myself – first task, hire people to lead….) of a pure start up company. The website had not yet launched and was only half finished. I took on that project and you can tell my passion for the project when I talk about her. Note my use of “her”. She is my baby and I love her. I am now Head of Technology as our team has rapidly grown. My position fast became one that included a lot of departmental management and is now mostly that. Most of all, I am now a leader on a very different level to when I started! To do that job, my development time reduced drastically.

Some people find this very hard, you have ownership of a platform plus carte blanche on the innovation of the platform’s growth. It’s a hard thing to trust to others… Especially if you belong in category number 1.

Therein lies the crux of this post. When to let go? How to let go? Most importantly especially as a leader, why should you let go?

When to let go….

This can vary and there are many factors to consider. However, there is one big factor that you MUST pay attention to – even though its hard. Ask youself this question:

Can you give a project full and deserved focus when developing?

To answer this question, you must search deep inside yourself and find the real and truthful answer. If you know deep down that the answer is no. You are probably actually neglecting your management duties in order to keep your developer hat….. It’s time to let go.

How to let go….

There are several ways to this, I took the big bang approach. I actually recovered quickly, and it was a brilliant feeling, once I’d gotten used to it! Once you have got your processes in place and roadmap under control, there is no reason why you can’t spend some time as the deep thinker leader with your developers. What a fantastic way to satisfy the love of developing technology!

Why should you let go….

If you are still trying to control and monopolise your platform, are you still doing the following as a leader?

  • Keeping your team’s best interests and needs met?
  • Controlling the direction of technology effectively and objectively?
  • Keeping business requirements at the core of your decisions?
  • Mentoring your team where necessary and supporting them?
  • Being that objective head of reason that can really solve problems effectively and facilitate solutions?

If you answer no to any of these, it’s time to let go. Your baby and your team deserve your full focus to enable and empower them to succeed. You’re still at the helm, but by golly, your extremely competent team can achieve and help you achieve much greater levels of success. Truly earned, deserved and wanted by even the most clingy technology leader!!!!

Try it, you just might enjoy it!

2 Comments on “Letting Go……

  1. Nice article. I like “letting go” concept. Going through it myself as a number 1 (from your list of technical directors) constantly trying to be number 4. 😉 One thing for sure is that letting go sometimes is just best way forward. It is not entirely leadership related but you might want to check it out: http://blog.i-evaluation.com/2011/01/25/how-to-fail-not

  2. Thanks Marek! I’m a huge advocate of “Leadership != micromanagement” and if you don’t let go of the lower levels as you progress to the higher ones, you have a very high risk of becoming a micro-manager. As a seasoned developer, I have never worked well with such people on higher levels being like this when I am the one working on the ground.

    With this is mind, I am working (still – it’s not a one step procedure!) to make sure my team have all the tools and knowledge they need in order to work on the ground level without the need for my constant ownership and monitoring.

    It’s a good place to be; happier team, happier me and most importantly, happier platform!

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