The Developer’s Guide to Being a Better Leader: Solution-ing is Contagious

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More often than not, developers and architects spend a large portion of their time in solving problems. The complexity involved in finding a solution varies from problem-to-problem and is directly proportionate to the individual’s or team’s ability in finding the solution. As a lead, architect or a senior architect, we need to instill the culture of solution-ing in our team.

Our objective should be to bring solutions and not problems while the team is in the middle of an adverse situation. Mounting pressure by just speaking about the hurdle without any course of action or intent to solve the problem will lead us nowhere. Instead, when you constantly practice providing a solution to your team at difficult times, you maximize the team’s ability to emerge with ideas to overcome the problem.

Solutioning is contagious

According to a study at the University of Michigan, when leaders were in a positive mood, in comparison to a negative mood, individual group members experienced more positive and less negative mood. And the mood of the leader influences group effort, such that groups with leaders in a negative mood expend more effort than do groups with leaders in a positive mood.

Positivity plays a critical role in difficult times. Providing a solution as a leader unfurls positivity, even if the solution you are providing is not complete. It sparks new ideas and your team follows your lead to help complete the process of solutioning.

Solutioning is contagious and as a leader, you have all the opportunity to enable your team’s potential in problem-solving. It is imperative not to deviate from your responsibilities. Instead of problem-finding and delegating the work to your team, huddle up and do the problem-solving. If you tend to do more of program management, quality assurance or anything other than what you are ought to do as a technical lead, it could impact your team’s technical abilities and the velocity of deliverables. While it is good to possess other skills outside your role, it might not be apt to use them at all times.

Failing to provide your technical expertise will be noticed by your team and that hampers their motivation to accept you as a technical lead. If you find yourself pivoting from your responsibility of providing technical solutions as an architect, it is perhaps time to reconsider your role as you would be redundant and liability to the team instead of an asset.

While the focus on technical solutioning solves short and long-term problems to deliver a product or a service, building a team of strong, consistent and focused-developers requires practising the culture of solutioning and constant infusion of motivation. A solution-driven team delivers increased productivity.

Over time, this practice turns into cognition and the team puts focus on solutioning without supervision. This helps in the growth of individuals as they pass on this habit to their teams as future leaders.

Developer’s Guide to Being a Better Leader is a series that focuses on understanding the nitty-gritty of leadership skills required as a technologist to bring a team of developers together and deliver quality results. It is an attempt to generate more leaders who boost productivity in their teams that helps accelerate the innovation of newer products and services.

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Sy, Thomas & Côté, Stéphane & Saavedra, Richard. (2005). The Contagious Leader: Impact of the Leader’s Mood on the Mood of Group Members, Group Affective Tone, and Group Processes. The Journal of applied psychology. 90. 295–305. 10.1037/0021–9010.90.2.295.

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