👀 Are you an Accountable Leader?
The Importance of Communication and Accountability in Leadership
Hey there 👋🏼
In today’s email:
Be Accountable: Not everything is perfect all the time.
Leadership for the Rest of Us: I couldn’t wait to read this book.
Cool stuff on the web: The best stuff on the web.
Post of the week: 5-star on social media.
Last week I talked about how important the way you communicate something is. How the same strategy, with the same goal, but communicated differently can lead to entirely distinct outcomes and acceptance levels from the teams.
This week I want to continue on the topic of communication, but this time how you, as a leader, communicate with external teams, your clients and partners, and the issues or outages that the product that you're responsible for had.
I've seen the full spectrum throughout the years: from communicating clearly every incident, filled with documentation, to no communication whatsoever. Let's dive into each strategy, and I'll let you choose the style you want to proceed with.
As a disclaimer, I'm biased toward a full transparency model.
Let's start with an apparently protective method: The blackout.
By not communicating with customers that your product had a downtime, you may be shielding your team from external criticism or senior leadership having a wrong idea about the quality of your team.
Why I firmly believe that you shouldn't go down this route:
Your customers see that the product they use is unavailable without communication from the owner team.
By not communicating or performing post-mortems on incidents, you're depriving your team of the possibility of improving.
Your partners, and other teams that work with you, will lose confidence in the effectiveness and reliability of your team.
Notice that by going into full blackout mode, you affect your most crucial triad:
It's tough to imagine a medium to a long-term strategy based on this working method.
On the other end of the communication spectrum, you will find a team that focuses heavily on communication.
This team tells their customers exactly what is happening with the product they use every week.
You might argue this brings an overload of work to the team. But this makes the team even more responsible for the product they maintain and evolve.
The responsibility of communicating weekly the status, downtimes, post-mortems, nest
Why I believe that this is the best route for a team to take:
Your customers know that any unavailability will be followed up with thorough communication. They trust that their product is being cared for and that your team values them as customers.
By continuously working and documenting the state of your application through clear communication and post-mortems, your team is aware of the critical actions that your team needs to perform to improve the product.
Your partners, and other teams that work with you, know that any outage has a follow-up, and the team will act to prevent future occurrences.
This way of working, or something close to it, is the best approach a team should take.
As a leader, I am fully aware that I need to go through two types of experiences:
One where I praise my team for being awesome and delivering challenging and value-creating initiatives and projects
Another is where I communicate outages and failures caused by a code or configuration change or a failure somewhere in the process.
We first need to understand that outages in our products will happen, and our team will make mistakes (just like we do). The important part is how you and the team deal with outages.
You must hold the team and yourself accountable for what happened and help them work through the outage, help them improve and prioritize the actions coming from the post-mortem.
You see, I take transparency and accountability as cornerstone values in a leader. Be accountable for your team, communicate clearly with your customers, and keep improving your product.
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LEADERSHIP FOR THE REST OF US
This has been one of the books I’ve been dying to read. So what better time than during insomnia?
I can’t find any other word to describe me at 4 AM than the eternal Red Forman:
Obviously, I couldn’t put the book down and just perpetuated the insomnia.
Just as a quick intro, Sarah Drasner is a Director of Engineering at Google. On top of other achievements, Drasner published this easy-to-read (circa 220 pages) book on leadership for the everyday leader.
I’m a big fan of the writing style, and Drasner captures a full 360 degrees of the challenges waiting for brand new Engineering Leaders.
On a side note, this book has some of the most amazing cover art I’ve ever seen.
I’m still going strong in this book, but if you want to improve your leadership skill set, I couldn’t recommend “Engineering Management for the Rest of Us” more.
If you’re enjoying this article, feel free to click the ❤️ button on this post so more people can discover it on Substack 🚀
COOL STUFF ON THE WEB
🎧 Diary of a CEO - I love this show! Diary of a CEO was one of the most unexpected shows I found in the past few months, and you’ll find an incredible range of guests and topics that span from sports to business and leadership.
🐦 Bird’s eye view of an entrepreneur/solopreneur path - Creating content, publishing in different mediums, and building an audience, a community is exactly like the image below. It has its ups and downs, highs and lows. The moments where we feel like we’re really helping other people, while others where we feel like a pure impostor.
Step by step. Day by day. Post by post. We keep building 🚀
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POST OF THE WEEK
It’s incredible how many people think that working flexible hours, asynchronously or remotely, are the same thing.
Do you agree with the list below or the pros (🔥) and cons (🧊)?