Elastic Leadership
Growing self-organizing teams
Roy Osherove
  • MEAP began October 2015
  • Publication in October 2016 (estimated)
  • ISBN 9781617293085
  • 325 pages (estimated)
  • printed in black & white

You’re a manager, technical team leader, architect, or scrum master and your team looks to you for guidance. You have to mediate heated debates. Personality clashes are yours to handle. The team is constantly putting out fires instead of doing the right things, the right way. Everyone seems to want to do things correctly, but nobody seems to be doing so. This is where leaders get stuck. Elastic leadership is a framework and philosophy of leadership that can help you as you manage day-to-day and long term challenges and strive to create the elusive self-organizing team. It is about understanding that your leadership needs to change based on which phase you discover your team is in.

Elastic Leadership provides you with a set of values, techniques, and practices to use in your leadership role. The first part of the book explains the elastic leadership philosophy—a way of navigating the leadership world that provides a moral compass as you make decisions, large and small. This includes the leader manifesto, and the elastic leadership framework phases (survival mode, learning, and self-organization). You’ll also learn a set of techniques and practices the author has acquired along his own journey that will complement and support your moral compass. In the second half of the book, you will find thoughts and notes from other leaders, with accompanying annotations from the author about how they fit into the overall framework and compass outlined in the first part of the book.

Table of Contents detailed table of contents

Part 1: Elastic Leadership

1. Striving toward a Team Leader Manifesto

1.1. Why should you care?

1.2. Don't be afraid to become management

1.2.1. You can make time for the things you care about.

1.2.2. An opportunity to learn new, exciting things every day

1.2.3. Experiment with human beings

1.2.4. Be more than one thing

1.2.5. Challenge yourself and your team

1.3. The Team Leader Manifesto

1.4. Next up

2. Elastic Leadership

2.1. The role of the team leader

2.2. Growth through challenge

2.2.1. Challenge

2.2.2. You're the bottleneck

2.3. Crunch time and leadership styles

2.4. Which Leadership Style Should You Choose?

2.4.1. Command and control

2.4.2. Coach

2.4.3. Facilitator

2.5. Leadership Styles and Team Phases

2.6. The three team phases

2.6.1. Survival phase (no time to learn)

2.6.2. Learning phase (learning to solve your own problems)

2.6.3. Self-organizing phase (facilitate, experiment)

2.7. When does a team move between phases?

2.8. Next up

3. The Team Leader Manifesto

4. Bus Factors

Part 2: Survival Mode

5. Survival Mode

5.1. Are you in survival mode?

5.1.1. The comfortable zone

5.1.2. The survival mode addiction

5.2. Getting out of survival mode

5.2.1. How much slack time do you need?

5.3. Making slack time—required actions

5.3.1. Find out your current commitments

5.3.2. Find out your current risks

5.3.3. Plan a red line

5.3.4. How do you remove commitments?

5.4. Why slack?

5.4.1. Remember why you're doing this

5.4.2. The risk of losing face to upper management

5.4.3. The risk of failing

5.4.4. This is what you are being paid to do

5.4.5. Realize that you are going to break your own patterns

5.4.6. Do not fear confrontation

5.4.7. Don't despair in the face of nitpickers

5.5. Command and control leadership

5.5.1. Correct bad decisions

5.5.2. Play to the team's strengths

5.5.3. Get rid of disturbances

5.6. During transformation you will likely need to…​

5.6.1. ..Need to start spending more time with the team

5.6.2. ..Need to take ownership of your team

5.6.3. Learn how to say no by saying yes

5.6.4. ..Need to start doing daily stand-up meetings

5.6.5. ..Need to understand the notion of broken windows

5.6.6. ..Need to start doing serious code reviews

5.6.7. What if your team is very big?

5.6.8. What if you are part of a "wide team"—a team that's distributed?

5.7. Next Up

Part 3: The Learning Phase

6. Learning to Learn

6.1. The baby ravine

6.2. Embrace ravines

6.2.1. How can you tell it's a ravine?

6.2.2. The Intern

6.3. Challenge your team into ravines

6.4. Next Up

7. Commitment Language

7.1. What does non-commitment sound like?

7.1.1. A way out

7.1.2. Wishful speaking

7.2. What does commitment sound like?

7.3. Is it under your control?

7.4. Commit to things under your control

7.5. Turn an impossible commitment into a possible one

7.6. So how do you get them on board?

7.6.1. Launch a commitment language initiative at a team meeting

7.6.2. Measure by feeling

7.6.3. Fix just-in-time errors

7.7. What if they fail to meet their commitments?

7.8. Finishing the commitment conversation

7.8.1. Can commitments drag on forever?

7.9. Look for by, not at

7.10. Where to use this language

7.11. Next steps

8. Growing People

8.1. Problem challenging

8.2. How did I react the first time I got challenged?

8.3. When to use problem challenging

8.3.1. Day-to-day growth opportunities

8.3.2. Daily stand-up meetings

8.3.3. One-on-one meetings

8.4. Don't punish for lack of trying or lack of success

8.5. Homework

8.5.1. Homework is a personal commitment, not a task

8.5.2. Homework has follow-up

8.5.3. Homework examples

8.6. Pace yourself and your team

8.7. Do you have enough learning time to make this mistake?

8.8. Are there situations where you should not grow people?

8.9. Next steps

Part 4: Self-Organization Mode

9. Use clearing meetings to advance self-organization

10. Influence Patterns

Part 5: Notes to a software team leader

11. Feeding Back

12. Channel Conflict Into Learning

13. It's Probably Not a Technical Problem

14. Review the Code by Robert C. Martin (Uncle Bob)

15. Document Your Air, Food, and Water by Travis Illig

16. Appraisals and Agile Don't Play Nicely by Gary Reynolds

17. Leading Through Learning: The Responsibilities of a Team Leader by Cory Foy

18. The Core Protocols Introduction by Yves Hanoulle

19. Change your mind: your product is your team by Jose Ramón Diaz

19.1. The product will be as good as your team is

20. Leadership and the mature team by Mike Burrows

21. Spread your workload by John Hill

22. Making your team manage their own work by Lior Friedman

23. Go see, ask why, show respect by Horia Slushanschi

24. Keep Developers Happy, Reap High-Quality Work by Derek Slawson

25. Stop Doing Their Work by Brian Dishaw

26. Write code, but not too much by Patrick Kua

27. Evolving from Manager to Leader by Tricia Broderick

28. Affecting the pace of change by Tom Howlett

29. Proximity Management by Jurgen Appelo

30. Babel Fish by Gil Zilberfeld

31. You are the Lead, Not the Know-It-All by Johanna Rothman

32. Actions speak louder than words by Dan North

What's inside

  • Understanding your goal and end-game as a leader
  • Measuring your effectiveness as a leader
  • Understanding why people do or don’t do things (behavior influence)
  • Coaching people to be more effective
  • Influencing managers to do the right things in the right way
  • What to expect when you become a leader
  • Real-life experiences from the software world

About the reader

This book is for anyone with a year or more of experience working with a team of any kind, and especially technical people, either as a lead or team member.

About the author

Roy Osherove is the author of The Art of Unit Testing and Beautiful Builds. For more than 17 years, he has worked as a developer, team leader, architect, Scrum Master, coach, and manager at companies all over the world.

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