Leadership is Everyone’s Responsibility [Testμ 2023]

LambdaTest

Posted On: August 23, 2023

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Read time9 Min Read

With a rapid pace of change and growing complexity, quality can take a backseat as teams strive to deliver features faster. Moreover, the role of leadership in championing quality is often overlooked.

This keynote session by Anne Marie Charett talked about the pivotal relationship between leaders and quality and emphasized the importance of leaders who are comfortable in handling ambiguity that comes as a result of constant change and complexity. She further shared her insights on how leadership fosters a culture of growth, authenticity, and effective change management.

About the Speaker

Anne Marie Charrett is a renowned leader in the software development industry with over 20 years of experience. She is a sought-after speaker, author, and trainer who contributed significantly to engineering leadership.

The ‘Quality Coach Book,’ an online book, is a testament to her thought leadership and expertise in engineering software engineering. In 2022, Anne-Marie was awarded the prestigious EuroSTAR Software Testing Excellence Award, further highlighting her accomplishments in the industry. She co-founded Speak Easy Diversity, one of the first mentoring programs to encourage greater diversity at tech conferences in 2014.

If you couldn’t catch all the sessions live, don’t worry! You can access the recordings at your convenience by visiting the LambdaTest YouTube Channel.

Challenges Faced While Achieving Quality

As the session started, Anne Marie shared her views on quality. Being an experienced leader, she has been able to identify the pattern of quality with ease. She further said that though achieving quality seems to be easy, it is challenging to achieve it.

Anne Marie often experienced that testing takes longer than expected, and the breadth of quality considerations can be overwhelming. Beyond ensuring something works as intended, she asked everyone to explore the various scenarios where it might not work.

She mentioned that her exploratory testing becomes crucial. She compared QA engineers to Salmon as they often swim against the current to deliver some uncomfortable truths about the product. Anne feels they work horizontally in the organization, influencing without direct authority. Demonstrating the value of quality work is a constant challenge, requiring additional effort to justify resources and changes.

Evolution of Quality in Recent Times

Anne Marie shared her views on the evolution of Quality, observing that it has evolved by introducing various frameworks, tools, and methodologies. Despite these roadblocks, the challenges remain constant. She addressed change as “New Black” as it can’t be avoided.

Evolution of Quality in Recent Times

She further noted an increased complexity and uncertainty, not just in technical aspects but also in areas like cloud computing, microservices, SREs, SLOs, machine learning, security concerns, and more. Anne mentioned the importance of observability and reliability in the cloud environment, where rapid bug fixes are necessary before customers know the issues. However, with all those changes coming, Anne Marie motivated everyone to accept the change and solve the challenges that come their way.

Challenges Encountered by the Leadership

Anne Marie discussed various challenges senior management or leadership faces and their impact on leaders. She talked about “Disruption Fatigue” and recalled 2014 when the idea of disrupting industries like taxis and hotels was celebrated. However, today, there’s a sense of fatigue and overwhelm due to continuous change and disruption.

Challenges Encountered by the Leadership

Leaders are constantly faced with the issue of doing more with less, increasing productivity, and dealing with hyper-growth demands. In her career, she has observed that in response to this complexity and uncertainty, there’s a potential return to a “command and control” leadership style, where leaders are more directive and authoritative.

Here, the question is, what to do in these kinds of complex situations- Anne Marie emphasized the role of leaders in helping their teams during tough times. She thinks everyone on the team must be ready for changes, not just the leaders. Teams should be able to adapt quickly when things get tricky. But, she understands that in quality work, people want things to be certain and reliable. This clashes with the fact that situations can be complicated and uncertain. It’s a tough balance to maintain, but she believes it’s important.

Becoming a Leader irrespective of your Position

As the session went ahead, Anne Marie pointed out that people must handle disappointment well when things don’t go as planned. She believes in building confidence in decision-making. She wants people to be like heroes who notice problems and take action to solve them.

Becoming a Leader irrespective of your Position

Anne Marie does not like the classic “command and control” approach because it makes people passive and just wait for instructions. Instead, she believes that even the junior engineer should possess the basic leadership skills in the team to deliver faster product releases.

n the team to deliver faster product releases.

She further expanded her thoughts by giving an example from David Marquet, who was in charge of a nuclear submarine. He made everyone on the team a leader, encouraging them to say, “I intend to do this,” instead of waiting for permission. Anne Marie suggested that leaders should do the same in organizations, creating an environment where people can step up and fix things. She talked about “co-creation,” a concept to help people grow by stretching themselves just enough without overwhelming them.

Key Skills to Excel as a Leader

While discussing the basic skills a leader should have, Anne Marie talked about four basic skills that could help anyone be a leader in tough situations.

Strategic Thinking

She emphasized the importance of this skill for leaders and noted that it’s often required in job ads for leadership roles. However, she raises concerns about how leaders gain experience in strategic thinking early in their careers and where they find opportunities to develop this skill.

Co-Creation

Anne Marie discussed the concept of “co-creation” that she developed in an organization. She observed how job hiring drives often require strategic thinking for leadership roles. Still, she was concerned that leaders gain that experience early in their careers and miss the opportunity to learn and develop skills. She shared her experience as a Director of quality engineering and how she practiced co-creation in strategic thinking. She paired up with team members to jointly think and work on strategic aspects. Anne Marie believes everyone should have opportunities to develop skills and build confidence, not just leaders.

Ability to Create the Right Environments

Anne Marie talked about the importance of creating environments where people thrive. She thinks leaders should establish ecosystems that foster excellent work and engagement. Further, she clarified that this doesn’t mean providing superficial perks like ping pong tables but creating spaces where people feel valued, supported, and can do meaningful work. She did accept that it involves challenges, but creating these sustainable spaces for growth is key.

As the session approached the end, Anne Marie concluded her talk by urging the people in leadership roles to be permission givers, allowing their team members to take the initiative and think strategically.

She emphasizes the importance of building confidence in team members so they can trust their judgment. Creating opportunities and spaces for growth is vital for fostering a thriving environment. Lastly, she emphasized the value of authenticity in leadership. True leaders are those who are authentic with themselves and their teams. Even when times are tough, she advised against resorting to a command and control approach, instead looking for a people-centric perspective that prioritizes humanity and certain values.

Time for Some Q&A

  1. What strategies can organizations implement to encourage employees to step up and demonstrate leadership qualities in their daily work and interactions?
  2. Answer: To answer this question, Anne Marie suggested two strategies to encourage employees to demonstrate leadership qualities:

    Understand Individual Goals: Leaders should know what motivates their team members. This could be career growth, personal aspirations, or other goals. By aligning with their interests and supporting their development, trust is built.

    Create Supportive Systems: Organizations should establish clear career paths and systems for growth. For instance, if there’s a role like a “quality coach,” there should be a defined path for their development. One-on-one coaching is crucial too, allowing individuals to take charge of their careers. Coaching doesn’t mean providing all the answers; it’s about empowering them to make decisions and own their growth.

    Anne Marie also emphasized giving team members opportunities to shine, like allowing them to lead on strategic projects and ensuring their contributions are recognized.

  3. How do or should we do or should we break down those myriad tasks into fundamental universal goals to simplify and streamline team workload?
  4. Answer: Anne Marie talked about simplifying the team workload by focusing on collaboration. She said it’s about breaking tasks down and working together as a team. She suggested involving the product manager because they decide how much time is given for tasks.

    It’s important to educate them that work isn’t just writing code; it includes other important tasks. Having conversations with confidence is key, even if they’re tough. The more you practice, the better you’ll get. Start these discussions and seek support from colleagues to gain confidence. The goal is to reduce unplanned work and make the work process smoother.

Got more questions? Drop them on the LambdaTest Community.

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