Leadership Fail, Missing The Target

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There are opportunities for leadership in most interactions with other humans.  Sometimes we do not see them.  Sometimes we ignore them.  Today I had the chance to test my leadership skills and I failed.

We have encountered some challenges with our integration with Kafka.  We are taking this sprint to create a comprehensive suite of tests to make sure that we are solid.  One of the obstacles is how can we run tests on our local machine efficiently.  “On our local machines” was the first goal that I missed.

The goal was not about running them locally, but rather the ability run tests very quickly with complete setup and tear down.  To solve this problem I spent the last couple of days working on a Docker solution (which works nicely!).

One of the philosophies that we hold is to make sure that we have as production like environments as possible and this extends all the way to local development.  Today when we were closer to having a suitable Docker solution, we felt it was time to loop in Dev/Ops so we invited them to the daily scrum.  I had the feeling that this was going to go sideways, since we did not have a solid plan yet.

As expected, they were defensive and I cannot say that I blame them.  Knowing that this is not something that could be resolved in 15 minutes, we setup a meeting to talk more about this.  We are getting close to failure number two.  When we started the meeting, my buddy started to give an overview of what was the purpose of the meeting.

A lot of uninformed conversation started and internally I could feel that I was getting frustrated.  I can say that was failure number 2, but wait there are more failures coming up.  When I get frustrated, I tend to get defensive to the point that it looks like I am on the hunt.  This is a character flaw that I am working hard to correct (and have been for years).

Some of the more Dev/Ops focused guy where asking why would be want to run Docker, “it runs on VirtualBox” , “we have VMWare and Azure”.  This is where my frustration started to turn outwards.  I had lost sight of the goal: run tests against Kafka with setup and tear down really damn quickly.  That is failure number 3.

This last failure was the biggest opportunity that I missed.  What I should have done is readdress the requirements and then ask if they had any ideas on how we can solve the problem.  I think that would have defused the tension and calm things down.  Luckily there were others in the room that were able to navigate  those waters to arrive at a solution.

Daily we have all sorts of interactions with people, whether by email, phone or face to face.  In these interactions we have a chance to connect with people and exhibit some levels of leadership.  Often times we may not see it or in my case we suppress it.  I knew what should have happened, but for some reason I was unable to do it.  The good thing is that today is over and I will have more opportunities to exercise leadership tomorrow.



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