Tag: management

Lead by Example and Emulate Ideal

Lead by Example and Emulate Ideal (Image by http://www.sxc.hu/)

Background

Leadership has become a big focus for me as I start to grow more into my role at Magnet Forensics. As a developer, I feel like it’s easy to gain basic knowledge and experience with unfamiliar programming territory just by surfing The Internet. With leadership, that’s certainly not the case for me.

What’s my most recent realization? Lead by example if you expect anyone to take you seriously. As a young leader (and with little professional experience in a leadership role), I think this becomes especially important. When you lead by example, you’re showing others that you’re really behind what you’re preaching.

Lead by Example: A Simple How-to

Maybe it’s obvious, but I really don’t think I’m over simplifying my message when I say it. To lead by example, you just do what you expect other people to do. Obvious, right? If you’ve been working for long enough, you’ve probably had a boss that you thought was doing a poor job. There’s many reasons for this, and I don’t want to turn this into a negative-dwelling-unhappy-rant party, but one such reason is it felt like they were just passing down orders to you.

What’s more disengaging than having someone that’s locked up in a room come out every couple of hours to assign you a new task? This boss of yours was doing a poor job of demonstrating meaning to you. Why was doing what he or she was telling you to do was the right thing-the thing that’s going to help get the company to the next step? He or she was not using what I would now call leadership rule #1: lead by example.

Okay. So you’ve envisioned the times when it sucked. We’re off to a good start, because hopefully things can only look up from here. What would you have done differently if you were in your old boss’s shoes and you wanted to inspire an alternate-universe-you to do a good job? There’s probably a handful of things you can think of (and for certain people with certain bosses, maybe that handful is multiple gorilla-sized handfuls).

What if your boss, your manager, or your leader had actually sat down with you and guided you through their expectations? What if the first time through a particular task you sat together and worked through it as a team? What if there was nothing left unclear and you could truly get behind what you were being told? I’m sure you wouldn’t feel resentful of the almighty boss throwing down orders like lightning bolts from the heavens if that was the case.

But why? Here are a few reasons:

  • The clarity of expectations becomes established. There’s a lot less guessing work. Being able to establish clear expectations at work is key to building trust and having successful teams.
  • You buy in. When someone can lead by example, they’re proving to you why they value something. It’s a lot easier to get behind them compared to someone else who has never proved their knowledge, skills, or experience to you.
  • It becomes more like a peer relationship when receiving work. Initially, you feel like you’re shadowing someone that you can more easily relate to. When it comes time to take the reins, you don’t feel like you’re pulling your manager in a carriage behind you.

Emulate Ideal

As a leader, you’d be shocked if you realized just how much of an effect you have on other people. You don’t have to be the CEO or manage 100 teams of 100 people to have the influence either. The even more surprising part? A lot of your influence is actually not a conscious effort on your part. Boom.

The reason I’m suggesting that as a leader you should be emulating ideal is because people will pick up on it. People see how you act, whether good or bad, and will learn to emulate your own behavior. If you’re a hard worker who gets things done, your teammates will learn that that’s what drives the team’s success. If you’re always putting down people’s work, then it will be the norm for nobody to really have an appreciation for the work of others. If you’re watching YouTube and surfing the net all day, that’s now acceptable behavior for everyone else. Repeatedly show up late for or flake out on meetings? Don’t be surprised if meetings become less effective. Constantly encouraging people and acknowledging their successes? You’ll start to see others praising each other. These might be generalizations of course, but if everything else is aligned I’m sure you’ll see these kinds of trends.

This truly is often overlooked. Once you’ve gained respect from people and you have their attention, your actions will have a big impact. So now instead of expecting your team members to act in accordance of what you think is ideal, why not live it out yourself? They’ll automatically start making the transition, especially if you’ve clearly communicated your expectations to them.

Summary

You get the most buy in from others when you lead by example, and you’ll become much more effective as a manager or leader. You have your own expectations of what ideal is, so it’s important to communicate them with your team (Side note: expectations go both ways. Make sure your team’s expectations of an ideal leader are properly communicated to you). One of the best ways you can communicate your expectations through leading by example regularly, and you drive the point home by emulating your definition of ideal.

Extras

If you’re looking for a bit more on how and why to lead by example, consider these links:


Migration – Weekly Article Dump

Migration - Weekly Article Dump

Migration: Bye to the Pi

Well… it happened. If you checked in earlier this week, you might have noticed Dev Leader was completely down on Thursday. Quite a bummer… but the show must go on. Migration to a new host was necessary, but that wasn’t without some hiccups.

For me, having a site hosted was still a pretty new process. I had tried it a couple of times before, but running a web server that I controlled always felt better. Just more control I suppose. Migration started off sort of sour where I was required to re-install WordPress on my host a few times due to some technical difficulties… And of course, it was hard to sit still while I knew my site was down. Once I finally had WordPress launched, the only part of the migration that went smooth was having a backup of my site four hours before it went down. Talk about timing!

There’s silver lining in everything though, and this little migration blip was no different. My Raspberry Pi was a fun little box, but it wasn’t fast by any stretch of the imagination. Page loading times were a bit slow, and serving images could sometimes be terrifyingly slow. Now that the site is hosted, there should be a very noticeable performance improvement. Additionally, with the new host comes some additional reliability! That’s always awesome.

See? Migration wasn’t so bad after all, I guess! My list of things for any WordPress user to be doing regularly:

  • Back up your posts
  • Back up your comments if your readers are actively engaged in discussions
  • Back up the media you use on your blog
  • Export your plugin settings
  • Keep a list of plugins you have running

Even if you don’t have a plan for host migration any time in the near future, it’s always good to have the “worst case scenario” covered. The plugin BackWPup covers basically everything I mentioned above, so I’d recommend getting that setup if you don’t have any backup plan currently in place!

Articles

  • Feedback is the Breakfast of Champions: 10 Tips for Doing it Right: Anyone in a leadership position knows just how valuable being able to provide feedback is. Heck, anyone who is driven to improve themself craves feedback. Joel Peterson provides an awesome list of tips for being able to provide feedback. I’d say frequency, positivity, and confidentiality are among the top take away points from his list.
  • 10 ways to make your .NET projects play nice with others: First programming article in the list this week. I thought this one stood out because I think anyone working in a team has either heard some (most) of these or is trying to work through them. Troy Hunt has put together a list of 10 things that any developer working in a team should be conscious of to make sure their code plays well with their teammates. Number one on the list is the same as my number one. “Works on my machine” carries no validity. Why? Your customers don’t have your computer. It’s a frequent thing when working with the QA team and developers want to cover their butts… But it won’t cut it!
  • Only 13 percent of people worldwide actually like going to work: Had to share this one, because if the stat is real, it’s scary. It’s scary to think that almost 90% of people that go to work don’t actually like going. In Jena McGregor‘s article, this low rate is attributed to poor working conditions, job availability, and job engagement. On the bright side for us North Americans, we’re a bit higher at just under 30%. That’s still far too low for something we spend a majority of our lives doing. It’s important to find a company you can get behind, and I definitely lucked out with Magnet.
  • The New Science of Who Sits Where at WorkRachel Feintzeig shared an interesting article about seating in the workplace. I’ve shared some articles before about open concept offices and that I do enjoy working in them, but the seating perspective is pretty interesting. For example, changing your org hierarchy is one thing but unless people are changing their daily interactions, it won’t have that big of an effect. However, if seating arrangements are responsible for 40-60% of people’s daily interactions, simply moving people around will really stir the pot.
  • What is the Biggest Mistake Managers Make?: In John Murphy‘s article, he points out something that is probably less obvious than it should be. The biggest mistake a manager can make is focusing on the wrong things. He provides some steps to help align managers with the goals of their company to ensure that focus is in the necessary areas.
  • 8 strategies for successful culture change: Culture is something that is dynamic and always evolving within a company, but often there are things that are core to the company culture. What happens when you need to make some work culture changes? Michelle Smith shares some tips on how to approach a work culture shift.
  • Why Inspiring Leaders Don’t Sweat: Here was an article that hit home with me because I’m guilty of it. Panicking. Why is it bad if you’re panicking in a leadership position? The biggest problem is that your teammates will pick up on it and switch to a panick state too. It’s incredibly demotivating, and it’s usually at a time when motivation and inspiration is truly needed. In Steven Thompson‘s post, he talks about how and why to keep calm and lead on.
  • 3 Proven Ways to Make Tough Job Decisions: Jennifer Dulski discusses three approaches for helping make tough life and career decisions. At some point or another, most of us will be faced with making a decision in our career path that’s going to be difficult–difficult for you to decide or difficult for you to explain to those you’re close to. I think the “Sit With” approach is my favourite of the three.
  • 4 Ways to Have a Life Outside Your Business: This one should probably hit home with anyone working in a startup or running a business. Alexa von Tobel shares four tips for how to have a life outside of work and why having a life outside of work is necessary to be successful. I think something that’s often overlooked (somehow) is “me time”. I’m guilty of it too, but you get to a point when you’re not doing anything just for yourself. It’s great to be dedicated to your company and be passionate about your work, but it’s also importnt to step back, take a breath, and do something just for you.
  • 17 Things The Boss Should Never Say: Dave Kerpen has another great article on what not to say–this time from the boss’s perspective. Some of the worst ones in my opinion? Telling your teammates it’s only their problem (or not yours, at least) or being adamant about not evolving your perspective/processes. Some gems in there from quite a few business owners.
  • 9 Lessons From the World’s Best Mentors: This one is pretty quick from Chester Elton, but there’s a few different perspectives shared in here. Sone key points in my opinion are ensuring that you’re doing what you can to help others and not getting paralyzed by risk.
  • Key Reasons Delegating Is SO Difficult and What To Do About It: Most new managers and leaders have this problem. How do you delegate work? Perhaps you acquired your management or leadership position because you proved that technically you were very capable in your position. So how do you get others to do work you think you could be doing? Judith Sherven shares some insight on why being able to delegate is an incredibly important skill as a leader. After all, being able to grow as a leader means being able to effectively delegate responsibilities.
  • Want Greater Employee Engagement? Develop Intrapreneurs: In this article, Larry Myler talks about increasing employee engagement by developing intrapreneurs within your organization. It’s inline with what Tayun’s guest post was about the other week. Provide people autonomy and let them execute on their strengths. It’s a sure-fire way to increase engagement.

That’s it for this week! Hopefully there won’t be any more emergency host migrations any time in the near future (or ever again). Follow Dev Leader on social media outlets to get these updates through the week.

Nick Cosentino – LinkedIn
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v6.2 of IEF from Magnet Forensics! – Weekly Article Dump

IEF v6.2 from Magnet Forensics

v6.2 Release: Mobile Forensics Upgrade

I like to be able to use these weekly article dumps for little summaries of what’s going on in my work life, and I think this is a perfect opportunity to acknowledge our latest product update at Magnet Forensics. We just pushed out v6.2 of Internet Evidence Finder and we’re incredibly proud of the work we’ve done. Like any release we have, we pour our hearts into making sure it’s a few big steps forward. We’ve done our best to listen to customers and work with them to address any bugs, but we’re always trying to push the boundaries in our features.

Some of the new offerings in v6.2 of Internet Evidence Finder include:

  • Dynamic App Finder: We now offer a solution for recovering mobile chat applications that we may not have otherwise supported. This is a great discovery tool and has proved to be very powerful even in our early tests. Read more about it here. v6.2’s secret weapon!
  • Chat Threading: Visualize chat threads within our software as they look in their native applications. If you’re looking at a Skype conversation between two or more people, it will show up just like it does from within Skype. A lot less jumping between records to piece together a conversation.
  • L2T CSV Support: L2T CSV files can now be loaded directly into our timeline viewer.
  • Case Merging: Combine multiple IEF cases together or pull in data from TLN/L2T CSV files.
  • More Artifacts: v6.2 is no different than previous releases when it comes to adding new artifacts!
    • AVI carving
    • Hushmail
    • TOR chat
    • Flash cookies
    • Offline gmail
    • Additional Chrome support
    • … and more.

If you’re a forensic investigator, v6.2 is going to be an awesome upgrade or addition to your suite of tools. If you’re not, then check out Magnet Forensics to see what we’re all about and so proud of what we do. Congrats to Magnet on an awesome release of v6.2!

Articles

  • In praise of micromanagement: I’m still very early on in my career, so it’s difficult for me to have an opinion on this article and back it up. It’s a bit controversial, so of course I want to take the other side and disagree with it.There’s that, and I have some discomfort when it comes to Apple so I like to turn off when I see articles on Apple or Steve Jobs. Regardless, I thought that there was an interesting perspective in this piece to share, and maybe even if I can’t see it right now, others would benefit from reading through it. Is there a place for micromanagement? Can it be done right? Are people like Steve Jobs just an exception to an otherwise good rule?
  • The Myth of the Rockstar Programmer: Scott Hanselman says that rockstar programmers don’t exist–rockstar teams do. I completely agree. When your company is so small that you essentially don’t have teams, this might not hold. Maybe you have three developers and each one is a rockstar in their own right. That’s probably a it different. More often than not, you’re not working with one or two people developing a product for a company. It’s not about having one rockstar with all the programming super-powers take charge on the team. It’s about creating a team where everyone has their own strengths and weaknesses and then organizing them to operate at full efficiency. Teams. Not individuals.
  • Strengthen and Sustain Culture with Storytelling: This is an article that I can really align myself with. Nancy Duarte writes about something that’s often lost when small startups are transitioning into small businesses. It’s entirely possible some companies don’t even make it out of the start up phase because this thing is already going south. Storytelling. It’s important to be able to share stories with people as you bring them on board to your company. They need to know where the company has been and how it’s gotten to where it is. New hires need to feel like their part of the family as they are brought on board, and without conveying your company’s mission and values properly you start to lose that alignment.
  • Ignoring Your Test Suite: Another programming article here, but this post by Jesse Taber has some deeper lessons to be learned, in my opinion. The article talks about something not all programmers do, but should: write code that tests their code. This lets developers catch problems early on (because catching a problem now might cost a bit of time, but catching the problem later could be devastating). Running code tests regularly is a process that allows you to ensure the foundation of your software product is structurally sound. But what happens when you have flaky tests? What happens when you introduce a new failure and don’t bother to fix it? After all, you have 3000 tests, and you know why test ABC is failing anyway. Don’t put processes in place just for the sake of having them. Everything you do should be done for a reason, because your business doesn’t have time for anything else. Don’t enable poor habits. If you’re noticing problems in your process, identify why they are happening and look to get them fixed. Maybe you need to adjust your process because it doesn’t fit anymore.
  • Cameron Sapp – Recognizing The New Guy: This one is from me. I wrote up a little recognition piece about a colleague and teammate, Cam Sapp. I want to be able to write more recognition posts, but I started with Cam. He’s been a great addition to our team both from a technical and work culture perspective. All of Magnet is glad to have him on board.
  • Don’t Work For Your Boss, Work For Your Company: I thought that Ilya Pozin had written something great when I cam across this article. Hierarchies in the workplace can often cause disconnect and disengage employees. So why do we have them? I’m not against hierarchies–I think they serve a purpose. However, I think necessary measures need to be put in place to ensure that hierarchies aren’t detracting from the company’s goals. In this article, Ilya says to not work for your boss. Your goals at work should not be to satisfy individuals or only do things for your boss so you can get your promotion. Align yourself to the company values and the mission of the company. You’ll remain engaged and happy to do the work you’re doing. In the end, if you’re not happy doing work that’s aligned with your company’s mission, vision, and values, you might be in the wrong place.
  • Creativity and the Role of the Leader: This article discusses where ideas come from and how leaders fit in to the grand scheme of things. The traditional mindset is that ideas come from the top and then are pushed down to employees to carry out the work necessary for bringing the idea to fruition. However, it’s increasingly more common where ideas are actually generated by employees, and it’s the responsibility of the leader for nurturing idea creation and ensuring that ideas that are aligned with the company’s mission can succeed.
  • Will Your Firm Endure?: In this article by Tim Williams, I took away two key points. In order for your business to be absolutely sure it can endure, everyone needs to be viewed as replaceable. I don’t mean in the sense where we can trade John for Joe and not care because we don’t value human qualities, I mean strictly from the skills and responsibility aspect. There shouldn’t be instanced in your business where if an individual were to disappear one day your company wouldn’t be able to carry on. The next is acknowledging strengths and weaknesses. When people have some obvious strengths, they have weak areas too. There’s nothing wrong with that. It’s normal. Make sure your teams are constructed of people with complementary skills.
  • Dynamic Programming with Python and C#: Another article from me, and another programming related post. This my follow up to a post about C# and Python integration that seems to have been received really well. It was a cool little experiment for me to take Python and C# and have them working together in my favourite IDE, but on top of that, I was actually able to learn a bit about C#’s “dynamic” keyword which was new for me. If you’re familiar with either of C# or Python I recommend checking it out. There’s some pretty cool stuff you can do, and I’ve only scratched the surface.
  • To Find Success, Forget Your PrioritiesClaire Diaz-Ortiz says that priorities are too general. We all have priorities, but how many of us are seeing ourselves achieve what we’d like? Claire suggests forgetting your priorities and breaking them down into goals you can achieve. By having conrete action plans, you can execute them properly.
  • Personality Tests: Modern-Day Phrenology: Ron Baker shares his perspective on why personality tests don’t have a place at work. He goes as far as calling them meaningless, but I believe his main argument is that simply siloing people into personality types is pointless. To that end, I agree. I thought this article had great timing because I’ve been discussing personality tests with our HR manager at work. I came across this article right before doing a personality test with her and we decided a few things. Firstly, if the results of the test don’t make sense, then don’t go any further with it. This means that either the test you’re using is flawed or perhaps you don’t understand the test. Regardless, how can you take action on something you don’t understand? We both agreed that simply identifying traits was useless on it’s own, so I think we agreed with Ron on this one, but we weren’t stopping there. The basic act of identifying personality traits had us sparking conversations about how our personalities were different and how acknowledging these differences could influence our interactions. Essentially, it was hard to just silo ourselves into a particular personality type without thinking about and acting on what we were observing. In the end, identifying personality types and sticking someone into some cookie-cutter process for it means nothing. The tests are all about ganining insight and understanding so that we can choose where to go from there.
  • How Open Should a Startup CEO Be with Staff?: Coming from a startup, this was another interesting article. Mark Suster writes a semi-controversial perspective about CEO transparency. The norm is that expecting CEO’s to share every bit of details with the employees achieved perfect transparency and makes everything better. Mark says this definitely isn’t the case and provides some excellent examples where total transparency came back to bite. It’s all about balance. Transparency is great,but total transparency is often too much for most employees to handle on a day-to-day basis.

Follow Dev Leader on social media outlets to get these updates through the week.

Nick Cosentino – LinkedIn
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Nick’s CodeProject Articles

You can also check out Dev Leader on FlipBoard.


Movember Prep – Weekly Article Dump

MoMagnets - Magnet Forensics' Movember Team

Movember Preparation

You might think we’re a bit early on this one, but at Magnet Forensics we’re going to take Movember to a whole new level this year. If you’re not familiar with Movember, you may want to head over here and get a rundown of the history of it. Movember started in Australia between a group of people who wanted to (somewhat jokingly) bring the moustache back into style. The next year they started getting people to grow mo’s for causes. Now people participate in Movember to raise awareness for men’s health, and it’s bigger than ever.

Our team members of MoMagnets have started discussing the various styles of mo’s that they’ll grow this year. It looks like there’s going to be some intra-team competition to grow the best mo. The top contenders? It’s looking like:

Matthew Chang - Movember

Matthew “The Chang” “Changarang” Chang sporting a well-groomed black moustache. Although it’s a standard ‘stache, the care put into keeping this beauty mo in tip-top shape is obvious. Can he do it again for this Movember?

Cameron Sapp - Movember

Cameron Sapp showing off a rock solid handle bar mo. The bars on this ‘stache are so impressive that it almost gives the illusion that this mo is taller than it is wide. Wait… is it?!

Check out the MoMagnets page and keep track of us! Please contribute what you can to help raise awareness for men’s health.

Articles

  • Python, Visual Studio, and C#… So. Sweet.: First one on the list this week is the post I put out on Monday about using Python, C#, and Visual Studio all together. It’s definitely for the developers out there, but for those of you who aren’t programmers, it’s still interesting to see how PyTools and IronPython have bridged a gap between C# and Visual Studio. I was pretty happy with the number of people who responded on social media and thought that it was a good read. The tweets actually led me to find a related post by Scott Hanselman from earlier this year (that I wish I saw sooner). My article has also received some pretty good visibility at Code Project which I’m excited about. Feel free to check it out over there too (people seem more likely to engage in discussion at Code Project versus on my blog)!
  • Want To Build A Business? Lead With Trust: David Hassell wrote an article that really hit home with me. Having a successful business means crafting a team and culture built upon trust. It needs to be the foundation of your team. Having high levels of trust makes everything else in the business come together more easily, but lacking trust can really make everything fall apart. Teams need to trust their leaders, and leaders need to trust their team members–it goes both ways.
  • Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos Had His Top Execs Read These Three Books: John Fortt discusses his interview with Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos. Now while I don’t read as much as I should (and I’m consciously trying to get better at it), I thought this little list of books might be great to keep my eye out for:
  • Confidence ‘boosts pupils’ academic success: I thought this article was a great find. It’s primarily around research that’s shown confidence plays a big role in students’ success, but I believe it applies outside of the realm of formal education. As a leader or mentor, I think it’s incredibly important to instill confidence. You want your team members to know you trust them with what they’re doing. They need to know they can make mistakes and learn without having to be punished for doing so. Having that confidence is going to be what makes them successful.
  • Leadership Lessons From LEGO: What do leadership and Lego have in common? A whole lot according to John Kotter. Consider innovation (get creative with those bricks!), overcoming challenges (can’t find that piece you were looking for?), team work (building things with friends is way more fun), and quality (it’s as good as you make it). It was an unexpected article for me to stumble upon, but I thought the parallels were interesting!
  • The Four Most Powerful Lessons in Management: Joel Peterson has some great points on being a successful leader or manager. Among them, putting actions behind your words, bring the right people on board (noticing a trend with having the right people yet?), and having a meaningful mission.
  • What is a Thought Leader?: I found myself asking this question at one point, which is why I wanted to share Daniel Tunkelang‘s article. It seems straight forward really. It’s important to have an area of expertise in the ideas you want to share, and it’s important that the things you’re sharing have meaning. In my case with Dev Leader, I certainly haven’t mastered leadership and programming, but I’m sharing the ideas that I’m hoping will some day get me there.
  • 17 Things You Should Never Say to Your Boss: This was definitely a great read. At first, I started thinking “How could anyone in their right mind say these things to their boss”? But then I realized I had actually heard some of these things (or similar things) and it really got me thinking. Dave Kerpen has put together a great list, and although it’s humourous, it’s still something important to watch out for. Just in it for the money? Not your role? Some people need to get a grip or find something else to do in their career.
  • Why These Happiness “Boosters” Might Actually Make You Feel Worse: Gretchen Rubin shares some ideas on why certain things we do to make us happier may actually be counter-productive. One interesting one I thought was the idea of your attitude shaping your behaviour may actually be your behaviour shaping your attitude. On weekends I often hang around in a pair of shorts until I have to head out of my condo. If I got in the habit of being prepped to leave the house and be productive from the beginning of the day, would I find that I’m actually more productive? Worth trying!
  • What Makes Developers Really Great: Deane Barker shares his experience with a software developer that was giving off some bad vibes. So what’s a good developer? Is it just someone who can code? Do they need to know all the latest and best languages, dream in code, and have four computer science degrees? It certainly helps (and I don’t think many would dismiss it), but the one thing that’s really important is their attitude and ability to work in their team. Check out the comments on that blog post. If you’re working on a team and you can’t fit in the team, you’ll bring the whole team down. This means if you’re all soft skills and no hard skills, you can’t contribute squat. If you’re all hard skills and no soft skills, you’re going to be a road block to your team. You need to have both to be a really great developer.

Remember to check out the MoMagnets page! We’d really appreciate it. Follow Dev Leader on social media outlets to get these updates through the week.

Nick Cosentino – LinkedIn
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You can also check out Dev Leader on FlipBoard.


Recognition – Weekly Article Dump

Recognition - Weekly Article Dump (Image from http://www.sxc.hu/)

Recognition – Weekly Article Dump

Not all of the articles this week touch on recognition, and to be honest, I didn’t pick it as a theme for the articles either. Recognition is more a topic of discussion that’s come up over the last week at Magnet Forensics, where I work. Being a team lead and part of the management team at Magnet, I’m often part of conversations about motivation. Providing recognition is an excellent way to motivate your staff and shows that you truly appreciate them. We’ve been trying to get better at recognizing staff for doing an awesome job–especially because we have so many awesome people working with us. It’s pretty obvious with our Profit Hot 50 placement that we’ve got some kick-ass people.

Recognition, whether it’s one-on-one or in a public setting, has a huge impact. I don’t even mean recognition in the form of compensation (e.g. bonus or salary raise). Just giving someone recognition for the awesome work they’ve done–plain and simple. It’s a great way to let someone know that their hard work and commitment isn’t going unnoticed. Sure, if they’re developing products, making sales, or acquiring leads there are certain metrics that indicate they’re doing a great job, but recognition is that additional feedback you can provide to really drive the point home. It motivates people and often has a bigger impact than providing compensation.

I want to make a conscious effort to try and recognize some of my colleagues on Dev Leader, going forward, when the opportunity presents itself. I’m always learning from the people I work with and there’s always something great I can say about them. Why not give them a public acknowledgement?

I also have a little surprise coming from a friend and colleague of mine, Tayfun Uzun, early next week, so keep your eyes open for that!

Articles

  • Job Titles and Responsibilities: Last week I wrote about my thoughts on the true role of job titles. As soon as you start to look at your job title as something that defines your limits, you’re on the wrong path. Your job title should define what you’re responsible for, but it’s by no means supposed to put limits on what you can do. Check it out and let me know what you think! Do you feel like job titles should keep people to only a certain set of tasks? Do you feel like having set responsibilities is useful at all?
  • How Strong Is Your Bench: Having a successful company is all about having the right people on board. Sylvia Hewlett writes about what it means to have a rock solid roster within your company. Some of the things include avoiding hiring clones of people exactly like yourself and instead trying to diversify the skill sets within your company. Absolutely true!
  • 8 Steps for Engineering Leaders to Keep the Peace: There seems to be a natural tendency for engineers or people implementing components of a product to push back on product managers or people who decide how a product/service should be. Steven Sinofsky discusses the importance of being an effective engineering leader and ensuring proper communication between engineering leaders and people like PMs or founders. Open and transparent communication is key and helps remind the other party that you do in fact have the same end-goal.
  • Top Tips To Being a Great Mentor: In this article, James Caan provides four key points for being a better mentor. Patience, honesty, positivity, and focus are the four pillars that James describes. Patience and honesty, in my opinion, are the most important but I certainly agree with all four!
  • Leading a Customer-Centric Transformation: Hopefully it’s not surprising, but customers are what your business should be geared toward. As a result, it makes sense that leading customer-centric employees would be beneficial. Don Peppers outlines six things to focus on to make this transformation necessary. It ties in with my post on avoiding organizational silos.
  • The Dark Side Of Software Development That No One Talks About: Don’t be scared that this article mentions software development if you’re not a programmer! It touches on some great points about having a career in software development, so even if you’re not a developer yourself, it sheds some light on some more broad issues. John Sonmez writes about why software developers seem like jerks sometimes and what you can do about it. It seems to boil down to intelligence being a deciding factor for how well you program, so lording your intelligence over other people makes you superior. And because our own intelligence is something we all hold personally, we can get defensive about it pretty easily. John suggests that part of the solution is trying to simplify aspects of software development.
  • How to Win Loyalty From Other People: To be a successful leader, the people you lead need to be loyal to you. Deepak Chopra writes about seven suggestions for building up loyalty and among them “abstaining from disloyalty” is one of my favourites. If you act differently behind people’s backs compared to when you’re leading them, it may come back to bite you later. It’s also crucial to pay attention to each individual’s personal differences to ensure they feel understood.
  • Strategies for Dealing with Randomness in BusinessDon Peppers twice on the list this week! Things in life and business aren’t always predictable for us. It’s just how things are. Are you properly set up to deal with uncertainty in your business though? Remain agile!
  • 10 Quotes All Entrepreneurs Should Memorize: How about some quotes to motivate you? Joel Peterson lists 10 great quotes for entrepreneurs, but I think they carry over to anyone working in a startup. Don’t be afraid to fail and keep moving forward to improve!
  • The Two Biggest Distractions – And What to Do About Them: Distractions are ever-increasing in the workplace, but have you ever considered the differences between the different types of distractions? Daniel Goleman discusses two very different types of distractions: sensory and emotional. I hadn’t really noticed it, but often we find ourselves consciously trying to avoid sensory distractions. If our phone lights up or we get an email notification, we either give in or we make an effort to try and reduce the effect of these distractions. But an emotional distraction is much worse. If something tweaks your emotions the wrong way at work, it often has a bigger impact and it’s usually unexpected.

My take away point for this week regarding recognition: Do it early and do it often. Remember to follow Dev Leader on social media outlets to get these updates through the week!

Nick Cosentino – LinkedIn
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You can also check out Dev Leader on FlipBoard.


PROFIT HOT 50 – Weekly Article Dump

Magnet Forensics - Ranked #7 in Profit Hot 50!

PROFIT HOT 50

It’s with great honour that I can say the company I’m part of, Magnet Forensics, has achieved the 7th place in the Profit Hot 50 rankings for 2013. Last year Magnet Forensics was also on the list ranked at number 16th, but we’ve shown ourselves up by moving a full 9 positions! Our ranking in the Profit Hot 50 is even more impressive considering we’re the only company from Kitchener-Waterloo region in Ontario–Known for it’s incredible startup community and success stories–that made the list. We’re excited and tremendously proud of our accomplishments, but it’s certainly going to be quite the challenge for us to move up in rank next year. It’s a challenge we’re all ready to take on though. You can check out the ranking over here or at the official Profit Guide posting.

Articles

I’ll put the horn-tooting aside… even though it’s an incredible accomplishment (not sure that I mentioned that already).

  • Don’t Be A Perfectionist: Ilya Pozin discusses the downsides to being a perfectionist. Often, people call themselves perfectionists when they can’t think of some other weakness they might have (you see it a lot in interviews) and because they think it’s a loop-hole in the question. I mean, if your weakness is that you’re perfect… how can that be a weakness, right?! Well in reality, aside form being a cheesy way to answer an otherwise good interview question, perfectionism can certainly be a problem. Especially in a fast-paced startup environment, we’re often not hunting for perfect. We’re hunting for 80% perfect with 20% of the effort. It’s the only way we can keep moving fast and get products or services to our customers. Besides, we don’t know what “perfect” actually is… Our customers do. And if we never get anything to them, how the heck can we ever know what perfect is?
  • How Goofing Off Can Make You More Successful: In this article, Adam Rifkin discusses over work. It’s a great tie in to the articles I shared last week about burnout. Adam talks about why we often find ourselves in situations where we feel like we’re forced to over work to be successful and shared a handful of suggestions for how to avoid it. His top 3: Doing nothing. Socializing. Helping others. Sound counter-intuitive to your poor overworked soul? Well kick back, relax, and have a good read through his post 🙂
  • The New Rules for Career Success: In Dave Kerpen‘s article, he shares some answers from Dan Schawbel about what it means to have a successful career. Among the top points, Dan suggests looking inside your current company before looking for opportunities elsewhere. This is a a key point because instead of becoming a chronic company hopper you can actually look for other great opportunities in the company you’ve already invested yourself in. Additionally, Dan suggests acting like an entrepreneur at your current job. If you’ve already proven yourself successful at your role, look for side projects that can benefit your company.
  • The Part They Don’t Tell You About Startup Team Building: The end result of becoming a good leader is often that you obsolete yourself in your current job. It’s a strange truth about the position: You start off taking on a large workload and then lead others so that they can effectively take on your portion and more. Where does that put you as a leader though? Tomasz Tunguz discusses this leadership role evolution in his article.
  • Raspberry Pi + WordPress => PiPress: This is a bit of a shameless plug, but I thought it might be cool for any tech-savvy bloggers out there who are looking for a bit of a DIY. After reading all over The Internet for how I can use my Raspberry Pi, I discovered I could use it to host a blog. So, for what it’s worth, the text you’re reading right now is coming from a little computer just a tad bigger than a credit card.
  • The 7 Things That Will Stop You Getting Things Done: Do you find there are a lot of things throughout your day that cut into you working efficiently? Bernard Marr has a nice list of things that are likely chewing up your time and a handful of solutions for how you can minimize the effect they have on your life.
  • Business is Over: My New Post-Workday Transition RoutineJeanine O’Donnell uses a BBB acronym for helping her transition from work-mode to home-mode. How do you handle separating your work-life from your home-life? Is there even a separation for you?
  • The Business World Can Tear You Apart – If You Let It: Even after achieving financial success and success in your career, sometimes there’s just something missing. Joel Peterson shares some tips for how you can keep your career focus from taking away from the finer things in life.
  • 6 Ways to Put the Good (Bad and Ugly) in Goodbye—Part II: Last week I shared a post about a great example of how to say to goodbye to your employees when they’re leaving for other opportunities. This post by Chester Elton builds on that with more positive examples, but he also shares some downright terrible ways that people have been “let go” by their employers.
  • Adventures in Cat (and Dog) Sitting: What I Learned about Managing People: If you don’t know what your pets have in common with your employees, Whitney Johnson can help you out with that. Why is this comparison necessary? Well if you think about how some people treat their pets (letting them out for walks, feeding them when they need it, belly rubs, petting, etc…) there are a lot of parallels with your employees… Well, there should be. Your employees deserve a good environment to work in, being acknowledged for their hard work, and having engaging work.

That’s it for this week! I hope you checked out the Profit Hot 50 article I mentioned above. Follow Dev Leader on popular social media outlets to get these updates through the week!

Nick Cosentino – LinkedIn
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You can also check out Dev Leader on FlipBoard.


Leadership Reads – Weekly Article Dump

Leadership Reading - Provided by Stock Free Images

Great Leadership Reads

Here’s a collection of articles I’ve shared over the past week on social media outlets. There’s a lot of great leadership reads this time around!

  • If You Don’t Treat Your Interns Right, You are Mean…and Stupid: This is a great post by Nancy Lublin that talks about something many full-time people share a common (and usually lousy) perspective on: interns. In my opinion, if you aren’t going to treat your interns well, you shouldn’t be hiring them. One key take away point from the article is ensuring that you treat your internship programs as something real and meaningful. Now, as a computer engineering graduate from the University of Waterloo and from being part of the leadership staff at Magnet Forensics, I’ve seen both sides of the story. Companies should treat their interns well, but interns should also realize companies are giving them the opportunity to be part of something great. It can be a win-win situation if both sides put in the time, effort, and dedication… but it can also be a lose-lose if approached poorly.
  • Does your company culture resemble jungle warfare?: Barry Salzberg talks about office politics in this article. Key take away points? Be aware of the politics but don’t participate. Work together as a company toward your mission and embrace your company values. There’s no room for politics if you want your company to achieve greatness. Politics only interfere and hinder the business.
  • At Home This Weekend? Try This!: Presenting… The Weekend CEO Challenge from Steve Tappin! I thought this article was a pretty cool perspective on how some top CEOs are spending their weeekends. Interested in doing any of these things over the weekend? Do you already do some of these things?
  • Resist the “Us vs. Them” Mindset: Daniel Goleman shares a quote about embracing an “us” vs “them” mindset. Look for the common goals you share with others and embrace them together. Work together and stop viewing others as enemies. It’s hard to be successful if you’re always worrying about thwarting your enemies, so why not rally your friends and work as a team?
  • It’s Time to Change Your Outlook on Change: Change isn’t a problem, according to Daniel Burrus. The problem is the fact that we sometimes fear change despite the fact that we’re built for it. In order to handle change well and be able to embrace it, we need to practice anticipating it. Stop leading blindly and acting surprised when things don’t go as planned… Start being proactive and paying attention to warning signs.
  • The Great Office Space Debate Rages On: Jennifer Merritt talks about a topic that’s been going back and forth for some time now: office layouts. It used to be the norm for companies to have cubicles and offices on the peripherals of a floor. Now the open concept offices have gained tons of traction and companies are even going to extremes and not having fixed work placements. What’s your opinion on office layout?
  • Four Things to Ask Yourself Before Arguing: Rita King addresses four really good things to ask yourself before you consider getting heated over what someone’s said or done. We’ve all been in a situation where someone’s done something to get us fired up, but is it really worth it? If you can manage it, try asking yourself the questions Rita discusses (are you listening? are you repeating patterns? do you understand the other person’s perspective? is there anything to be gained?) and perhaps you can cool yourself off before ruining your own day/week/month.
  • Change Your Habits with a Good Checklist: Habits aren’t easy to change. John Ryan writes about how you can use checklists to start enforcing good habits! Worth a shot at least, right? 🙂
  • Culture Quartet: 4 Steps to Unify Your Company: In this article, Dan Khabie talks about the merger of two companies and how culture played a large role in the success of the merger. Your workplace culture is essential for creating the right atmosphere for people to be productive and work well together. Teams thrive when the culture in the workplace is positive and places value on the employees.
  • The Truth About Best Practices: Liz Ryan discusses the how best practices can be like falling into a trap. Just because there is a best practice or certain metrics are a some sort of golden standard, it doesn’t mean you should blindly follow along. Does the process make sense for your company? Your team? Do the metrics make sense for your industry? Your market? At this current time? Focus on what matters and don’t get distracted.
  • Did You Make The Most of Your Mid-Year Review?: What makes a mid-year review useful? Linda Descano discusses four major points that include having an engaged conversation between both leader/manager and employee, constructive feedback for the employee to work on, and what goals are and how they can be accomplished. If you find reviews to be a time waster, is it because they’re not being conducted well? Are they a waste because nobody is engaged? Or are there other reasons that mid-year reviews feel like they aren’t useful?
  • Do You Find It Difficult to Claim Your Authority?: Judith Sherven, PhD addresses some common reasons why people often don’t consider themselves authorities. It’s a shame too, because it can hold people back from their full potential. If you have great experiences, skills, or you’re knowledgeable in a particular area, why wouldn’t you consider yourself an authority?
  • Where Are You on the Leadership Continuum?: When people consider good leaders, they often describe common traits. Joel Peterson points out that these traits often have varying meanings depending on the person using them. I’d recommend going through his list because it’s pretty interesting to see two very opposing descriptions for the same trait. You might even notice that a trait you would use to describe a leader is actually commonly described by others in a very different way. Definitely interesting!
  • Making Stone Soup: How to Really Make Collaborative Innovation Work Where You Work: Jeff DeGraff discusses some key points for having effective collaborative innovation. Setting high impact targets, recruiting domain experts, making multiple attempts, and learning from your experiences are all major points that DeGraff discusses. There’s also a playlist of videos discussing innovation, so there’s lots of content to absorb 🙂

Hope you enjoyed! Remember to follow on popular social media outlets to get these updates through the week!

Nick Cosentino – LinkedIn
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Listen First: The Human Sounding Board

Background

In the company I work at, Magnet Forensics, I’ve gotten myself into a leadership role. I wasn’t hired for this position (I’m a programmer at heart) but I’ve managed to stumble my way into it! As a young leader, I think one thing is really obvious for me in my daily leadership tasks: I don’t have all of the answers. Hell, I don’t even have a lot of the answers! So what keeps me from being entirely useless as a leader then?

I know who has the answers. My team.

The most important leadership lesson that I’ve learned (and I’m glad I learned it early) is to listen. The benefits to listening, and I mean actually listening, can be beneficial to the person asking as well as yourself as the leader.

How Can Listening Help Me?

Let’s be honest here. You’re a leader. You have things to do. How is sitting around listening to other people going to help you?

I briefly mentioned it already, but as a leader, I don’t have all of the answers. I’m also willing to bet that you don’t have all of the answers. In the end, probably nobody has all of them. The group of people you lead, collectively, probably have the best bet at having the answers though. Your team is not only core to production at work, but they’re also a great source of insight. Provided you have hired people from a variety of backgrounds, everyone has different experiences and perspectives to share.

Say you’ve run into a problem where developers can’t code things in parallel because everyone has different versions of the source code. Someone on your team suggests source control software. Cool. What the heck is it? Let’s ask a couple other people for their perspective on it. Now you know that some people have used Subversion, some Git, and others CVS. You still may not know what they are, but you know that introducing one of these could solve the problem at hand. But which one? Ask. What are people comfortable with? What are the pros and cons? What are people’s person experiences with these? Use the information provided by your team to guide your decision making process.

That’s Great, But… I Knew That. What Else?

If you’re a leader in your place of work, you may have encountered a situation like the following. You have a junior staff member come to you to ask questions. Like anyone else, you’re busy with your own stuff to do, but it’s your responsibility to help out your staff (and junior staff need the most assistance)! So, you do the obvious thing: give them the answer.

Sound familiar? It’s a common situation and it probably doesn’t seem out of the ordinary. Sometimes after a handful of questions, these junior staff members get up to speed and the questions cease or slow down. Other times, you might notice a bigger problem. That junior staff member becomes a bit more of a familiar face. You actually see a lot more of him or her now. And the questions? Don’t you worry. He or she has tons of them. In fact, they have an unlimited list of them.

If you listen to what these people are asking you, you can better shift the solution to long term. Don’t instinctively spit out the right answer. Let them ask you. Then ask them some questions back. Listen to their responses. If listen to what their problem is, you can find out where their pain points are. Guide them through it by asking them more questions and using their responses to steer the conversation.

This is beneficial for you because you’ll start seeing less of this person for asking questions. But why? What have you started doing?

Benefiting The Person With The Questions

And now we’ve arrived at the other core point: become the human sounding board. By listening (and listening well) you can actually let other people answer their own problems. They really just need some guidance in the whole process. It’s really similar to rubber duck problem solving (from the programming world). People often come to you with questions, and they’re on the verge of arriving at the answer.

You end up conditioning people on your team (that sounds king of wrong I guess, but let’s roll with it) to think first. People won’t come to you because they know they can get a quick answer from you. It’s not like doing a search on The Internet and relying on the first result anymore. Problem solving often doesn’t have a simple instant answer so don’t teach people to use you for that.

How Can I Listen Better?

Stop talking. It’s that easy. When someone comes to you with a question, don’t interrupt them with the answer before they’re done. Shush your lips. Besides, nobody likes being interrupted. You’re also demonstrating you’re not listening if you wan to interrupt them to answer. They could throw in a curve ball at the end that completely changes the context. So… hold your horses, zip your lips, and open your ears. If you find it hard to do this, actually shut up and count to 3 before you respond. You might get some funny looks for a week or so, but you’ll be listening a lot better after that.

Give your full attention to the person asking you questions. If you’re typing 3 emails, checking your facebook and twitter accounts, programming and interrupting the person asking you questions, you’re doing it wrong. When someone comes up to ask you a question, provided you aren’t in the middle of something that you can’t get away form momentarily, lock your computer. Lock it, turn to the person, and give them your full attention. You certainly aren’t listening well if you’re multi-tasking while someone is asking you questions. How do I know? Well, I guess I don’t. But I’d be confident in saying that you could listen better if you gave him or her your undivided attention. This also makes the person asking you feel more engaged. They know that you’re listening.

Reword people’s questions back to them. When someone asks you something, paraphrase it and ask it back. Confirm that what you’re hearing is what they’re asking. Why does this matter? It ensures you that you’re not misinterpreting something and it ensures him or her that you know what they are asking. It engages the person asking the question and it forces you to actually listen. It’s pretty hard to paraphrase something if you’re only hearing words and not getting any meaning from it.

Summary

By acting as a human sounding board, you:

  • Need to listen to what people are saying. Actually listen to the meaning.
  • Need to practice giving full attention.
  • Need to bite your tongue. Just. Stop. Talking.
  • Paraphrase what people ask. Boost engagement from both sides of the conversation.
  • Empower other people to make decisions better.
  • Utilize your number one information resource: your own team.

There are many benefits to listening. Start now to help yourself and help your team. You’ll see the results of this immediately. Try it out!


Weekly Article Dump

Weekend Motivation Reading!

Here’s a collection of things I shared over the week. Lot’s of motivation, tips, and leadership pointers!

  • 10 Leadership Nuggets From Nelson Mandela: Some inspiring words to lead by!
  • 5 Public Speaking Tips That’ll Prepare You for Any Interview: Several basic interview tips that are related to public speaking. Being better at interviewing never hurt anyone 🙂
  • A Foolproof Tool for Motivating Your Team (and Yourself): I’m always looking for different approaches to motivate. This article offered a pretty good approach that’s worth checking out.
  • Shiny objects: tips for using both sides of your brain: Some tips for boosting creativity, mostly aimed at those that may not be that creative 🙂
  • Are You Coachable?: An interesting article about being “coachable”. The best part, I thought, was addressing whether or not you’re actually seeking help or if you’re seeking validation. Big difference.
  • 10 Ways That Small Businesses Can Enchant Their Customers:
  • One Strategy for Workplace Happiness: Meet Others Where They Are: A great article about increasing and maintaining engagement from your customers.
  • Get Out of Your Own Way: You might be your biggest burden. Try to take a deep breath and stop letting others bring you down.
  • Should Colleges Charge Engineering Students More?: I’m not a fan of online debates, but this one churned my stomach a bit. In my opinion, if the program costs the institution more to offer it, then there is no reason it couldn’t cost a student more to take it. If the demand for people with these degrees is high, then perhaps the costs should actually be subsidized more (That doesn’t actually mean making it cheaper than other degrees necessarily, just putting in more effort to bring the cost down comparatively). If the whole reason is to balance out salary potential then I think people need to get a grip (Hi, I pay taxes based on my income). If you’re going to start charging more based on potential salaries, you might as well bust out the statistics and start charging a person’s tuition based on gender, race, age, and any other obscure metric you can attach to potential salaries. That would be cool too, right? Maybe I should start overly sarcastic rant posts…
  • Consider My Happiness Manifesto: It’s important to be happy! Do you have your own list of things that you use to gauge your happiness? Have you ever considered it?
  • The Unexpectedly High Cost of a Bad Hire: Having someone on your team who doesn’t fit the bill (technically, from a company culture perspective, or any other reason) can be pretty costly. It’s not even a matter of paying their salary while they are ramping up, but consider the impact it has on the effectiveness of other employees on the team.
  • The First Thing You Must Do On Monday Morning: I bet this is actually difficult for a lot of people… Do nothing?! I can’t even imagine how tricky this would be, despite the fact it’s only 5-10 minutes. I think I can afford the time, and I think I’d like to try it on Monday!
  • Name the Elephant in the Room: I thought this article was excellent. As a young professional in a leadership position, I get to see all sorts of awesome things in the startup I work at. Sometimes these things aren’t so awesome though, and they can be really hard to address. Having a well-lubed and smooth-running company culture means being able to be transparent and trust-worthy. Having those hard discussions is crucial for ensuring things don’t get bogged down by the elephant in the room.
  • Get Anxious Speaking Up At Meetings?: I can personally say that I’ve been there, but not so much anymore! It’s important that you can voice your opinions at meetings–That’s why you’re there!
  • Quiz: Do You Make Other People Happy?: A quick one, but it should provide some good indications that you actually do make others happy!
  • Praise or Criticism: Which is better?: An interesting article for sure. I’m sure we all think being praised is great, and surely we can’t all be wrong. But criticism can’t be all that bad for us, can it? Is there a right and a wrong way?

Weekly Article Dump

Quick Reading Update!

Here’s a collection of things I shared over the past week. It’s a short list this time around, but a quick reading update right before the weekend might provide you with a couple topics to look into in your downtime:

The goal of these types of posts will just be to summarize my social media activity. If you don’t want to watch Twitter, LinkedIn, or Facebook, you won’t need to. Once per week (on a Friday), I’ll try to summarize all of the articles that I linked to on these social media outlets. For what it’s worth, these will generally be articles geared more toward the leadership side of things and less about software development or programming. Most of what I share in these summaries will be relatively quick reading, since it’s usually just bog posts or LinkedIn articles. I’ll save  book lists and that type of reading material for something else–not these summaries.


  • Nick Cosentino

    Nick Cosentino

    I work as a team lead of software engineering at Magnet Forensics (http://www.magnetforensics.com). I'm into powerlifting, bodybuilding, and blogging about leadership/development topics over at http://www.devleader.ca.

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