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James Heggs
James Heggs

Posted on

Technical Leadership Katas

Soft skills - You're joking right?

Technical leadership is hard. In fact let's put it out there, working with people in any capacity is hard.

People have feelings, emotions, outside influences, past experiences, current experiences, families, friends, lost families, lost friends and quite literally everything in between. Not to mention the whole "social media" thing and how that impacts us.

Given that knowledge, pushing yourself in to any form of position where you are responsible for those people is a very vulnerable and scary place to be.

When I say vulnerable I totally mean the relation that vulnerability has to courage and BrenΓ© Brown's amazing work.

Those type of skills, to lead people, are described as many different things and whether you agree with the term 'soft skills' or not (aside: Some people don't disagree with the term but feel our cultural interpretation of being 'soft' is wrong) I think one thing I hope we all agree on is that acquiring leadership skills is really tough.

Interesting whilst writing this I thought I'd try and find out where that phrase 'soft skills' originated from.

Managing (yep I said the M word) people with all those different emotions is really tough.

The type of immediate feedback we get from a failed unit test or failed deployment carries little to zero emotion (ok maybe not the deployment one πŸ™ˆ). It's cold, hard and objective. The type of immediate feedback we get from an idea, approach, bad news, good news tends to be very different.

Kata exercises

Why not take the approach to managerial development in the same way that we might take with perfecting or learning a language through a series of Katas.

Over this "Tech Lead Kata" series, I'm going to share a series of Kata exercises for growing yourself as a technical leader.

Based on past managerial experiences I'll share some of the things that have got me through. I'll also share my stuff ups, the things I got wrong so you avoid being as stupid and foolish as me.

My aim is to share a Kata a week and lets get to 10 exercises and see how we get on.

Why bother listening to me?

Fair question! Your initial mind will quite rightly be skeptical and anything persuasive I write will have zero impact on your choice.

So I'll be all political and ask the question back - what's the alternative? Compare the kata exercises to alternatives, if you think they look good then go for them, if your alternative personal development approach looks like it'll yield better results then go for that one.

For the purposes of your comparison here is my LinkedIn if you want to understandably make some judgements 🀣

And you've also got the comments section - please please πŸ™ share your thoughts in there to help others build up a picture on whether they should bother investing their time on the katas.

How to start?

Here's a suggested way of getting involved

Spin up a repository under your own account called "tech-lead-katas".

Within that repository create a directory for each and a README.md file within that directory. Something like this:

tech-lead-katas
    β”œβ”€β”€ 001-natural-situational-starting-point
    β”‚Β Β  └── README.md
    └── 002-some-other-kata
        └── README.md
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For those that are really brave, I'd encourage learning in the open - share the links to your kata submissions as comments on the posts! Or even start discussions around what you thought about the Kata - we'll all learn from each other.

Learning in the open will increase your connection and accountability to what you are working through much in the way that tools like #100daysOfCode or #100DaysOfCloud do

Kata 1 - Your natural situational starting point

Got this far and still reading??! Phew!

Here's the first Kata - Understanding your natural situational starting point

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