This past summer I was asked to speak about practice leadership for a online event, and then recently I had the opportunity to speak at an event in London about the same topic.  When first approached about the topic I had to stop and think about what it even meant?  As I reflected on this topic a bit it ultimately led to what I am going to share today.  Reflecting on what about being a practice leader global or not.  This topic applies to everyone no matter where you work.

What is Practice Leadership?

Practice leadership when you look it up is hard to find a consistent definition for, so I default to answering this question based upon some of my experiences and conversations with others that I would consider leaders in the IT industry.  Practice leadership to me means many things, and I will share some of these ideas and concepts.  It means being a mentor for others either formal or informal, it means that your feedback is constructive and useful to your team, that the words you choose with others are carefully chosen even when direct, and that you have a general self-awareness which makes you effective in communicating with others on your team. 

So how do those statements translate to something useful you ask?  Let’s dive in!

Mentoring

For many years I was under thing misconception that mentoring had to be formal.  I went through many of my years thinking that I never had a mentor, because I had not been part of a formal program or process.  Wow, was I wrong!  Mentors are everywhere!  Mentors are anyone, no matter what their title, that are willing to give you constructive feedback and guidance as you navigate your career.  So now flip this around, and I have a feeling that not only have you had many mentors throughout your career you likely have also been one.  A person that provides constructive guidance to others.  Being willing to be a mentor in any given moment is the start to your practice leadership journey.  Leaders are willing to learn and teach others when appropriate throughout their careers.

Constructive Feedback

We are not very far into this post, and I have already used the term constructive feedback many times.  Constructive feedback can be delivered directly, but it never mean or condescending.  It should never belittle, or involving yelling.  Practice leaders are very clear in their feedback, but keep the conversation professional.  I personally have learned alot over the course of my career on how to do this right and wrong.  I personally have worn both of these shoes – right and wrong.  Learning how to deliver and accept construct feedback is imperative to your success within your team.  It is about the words you choose when interacting with others that can make or break your success as a practice leader.

Self-awareness

This topic to me is very interesting, because being self aware includes it overlaps with your personal life and overall balance.  Do you start your day rushed sleeping to the very last minute, do you get up and exercise, or do you have a different routine.  Do you question what meetings are about when you don’t recognize the topic before accepting them and giving up your time to them?  Are you a listener in meetings, or do you never stop talking?  Do you put the electronics away during meetings, and take notes on a pad of paper and pen to ensure focus? Do you set boundaries around your personal time off hours, or does work spill over into your family time?  Leaders make conscious choices around the answers to these questions, because they actively engage in self-awareness.  Self-awareness leads to balance, which leads to leadership that stands out.

Concluding Thoughts

These are just some of the many things that can help anyone with any title become a leader on their team.  Please share your thoughts on what it means to demonstrate leadership in the comments below.  Cheers!

Check out some of other career related posts here.

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