I think two key factors define success in both professional and personal life. That is why I like this question.
“So what are your habits and beliefs regarding this matter?”
I have a massively successful colleague who currently works as a tester in an advanced software project. He has a reputation, and customers and headhunters call in and ask for his services on a regular basis.
Though this is not a story about project management, let me share some background first.
His current project is sophisticated because they have a testing team of three for ten developers. A ratio that I haven’t seen too often. The latest software release has been under some finishing touches for a few weeks now, and it is meant to be released next week.
The colleague of mine knows that the software has three critical bugs in it, which he had already reported to the developers two weeks ago. The bugs, for some reason, are still not taken up to be fixed yet.
My tester friend is a smart guy. He has made sure to become friends with the developer in charge. He even set up his laptop across the aisle next to this lead developer.
“I occasionally whisper things like, this is what the bug looks like, to my developer friends,” he said to me once.
Even though three critical bugs are still not fixed, the tester has not escalated the subject up to the chain of command, so I had to ask him why?
“Well, I trust my guys. I trust them to fix these issues before the release, and my job is to help them succeed” he told me.
Because this specific tester is a great guy and is liked by the developers for his style, the team always takes his word seriously. Only a few times a year he hears the classic argument.
“It’s not a bug. It’s a feature.”
With patience and subtle approach he sees through that the team understands why the bugs he finds are relevant, and that the team fixes them before the release too.
And miraculously, the bugs seem to disappear just before release date. I’ve seen it happen several times over the decade.
“How do you work that magic then? How is it that you get so much more results than most of your colleagues?” I asked him.
“Well. It all boils down to two beliefs that I focus on daily,” he replied.
- I believe that above all else I am a customer servant. I am here to serve these people so that they can make killer apps and products. We are on the same side. Always.
- I believe that sharing all the credit with my team builds trust. And I think that taking all the blame does it as well. Trust is my biggest asset because the more I have it, the less I need to defend the relevance of my results.
These ideas had nothing to do with the skill or the title my friend has. But to me, it seemed clear that this is leadership at its core. No wonder why he has built up such reputation in the last decade.
So I decided to take up my journal tonight and write my answers to these questions.
Which specific beliefs should I toss to succeed? Which particular beliefs should I cultivate even further for the breakthroughs I desire?
Would you join me?