Leadership is the art of balance
This thought keeps coming back to me again and again over the last months. There are many flavors of leadership – leadership styles, but none of them is a universal enough to fit in the best way for every case.
It’s not a coincidence, I’ve chosen a sound director image for the blog post, because more often than not, I see the leaders do the same for their teams. Similar to sound directors, who adjust dozens of knobs and handles to make sure the resulting sound is as good as possible, leaders operate within their own environment to make teams shine and flourish. However, the devil as always is in the details, because the reality is way more complex than the idea itself.
For example, every engineering leader has to make many decisions about communication, processes, projects scope, team focus, time allocation for learning and development, amount of tech debt, size of the team, team velocity, code quality, acceptable risk levels and so on. Multiply those to a number of other factors like team members’ individuality, state of the business and market, competitors, and other elements making up the context, and you will understand how vast is the operational landscape can be.
So the definition of good enough will be very different depending on the context you operate in, e.g. velocity in the early stage products might be much more important than quality of the code, and quality requirements for payments service will be much higher than for utility application.
As a result, leaders are working every day to find that unique balance of existing tools, processes, and their configs, to steer in the chosen direction and maximize desirable outcomes, which makes the job pretty close to art.