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

1.5. Summary

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

2.9. Summary

3. Bus factors

3.1. Bus factors

3.1.1. A single point of failure

3.1.2. A bottleneck that slows things to a crawl

3.1.3. Reducing morale and inducing job insecurity

3.1.4. Discouraging team growth

3.2. Removing bus factors

3.2.1. Pairing and coaching

3.2.2. Bus factor as teacher

3.3. Avoid creating bus factors

3.3.1. Pairing

3.3.2. 1-1 code reviews

3.3.3. Rotation (support, scrum master, build)

3.3.4. Pushing people out of their comfort zone instead of asking the veterans to do it

3.4. Next up

3.5. Summary

4. Survival mode

4.1. Are you in survival mode?

4.1.1. The survival comfort zone

4.1.2. The survival mode addiction

4.2. Getting out of survival mode

4.2.1. How much slack time do you need?

4.3. Making slack time—required actions

4.3.1. Find out your current commitments

4.3.2. Find out your current risks

4.3.3. Plan a red line

4.3.4. How do you remove commitments?

4.4. Why slack?

4.4.1. Remember why you’re doing this

4.4.2. The risk of losing face with upper management

4.4.3. The risk of failing

4.4.4. This is what you’re being paid to do

4.4.5. Realize that you’re going to break your own patterns

4.4.6. Do not fear confrontation

4.4.7. Don’t despair in the face of nitpickers

4.5. Command-and-control leadership

4.5.1. Correct bad decisions

4.5.2. Play to the team’s strengths

4.5.3. Get rid of disturbances

4.6. During transformation you’ll likely need to…​

4.6.1. Need to start spending more time with the team

4.6.2. Need to take ownership of your team

4.6.3. Learn how to say no by saying yes

4.6.4. Need to start doing daily stand-up meetings

4.6.5. Need to understand the notion of broken windows

4.6.6. Need to start doing serious code reviews

4.6.7. What if your team is large?

4.6.8. What if you’re part of a "wide team"a team that's distributed?

4.7. Next up

4.8. Summary

Part 2: Survival Mode

5. Learning mode: learning to learn

5.1. The baby ravine

5.2. Embrace ravines

5.2.1. How can you tell it’s a ravine?

5.2.2. The intern

5.3. Challenge your team into ravines

5.4. Next up

5.5. Summary

Part 3: The Learning Phase

6. Commitment language

6.1. What does noncommittal sound like?

6.1.1. A way out

6.1.2. Wishful speaking

6.2. What does commitment sound like?

6.3. Is it under your control?

6.4. Commit to things under your control

6.5. Turn an impossible commitment into a possible one

6.6. How do you get them on board?

6.6.1. Launch a commitment language initiative at a team meeting

6.6.2. Measure by feeling

6.6.3. Fix just-in-time errors

6.7. What if they fail to meet their commitments?

6.8. Finishing the commitment conversation

6.8.1. Can commitments drag on forever?

6.9. Look for 'by,' not 'at'

6.9.1. Where to use this language

6.9.2. Next up

6.9.3. Summary

7. Growing people

7.1. Problem challenging

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

7.3. When to use problem challenging

7.3.1. Day-to-day growth opportunities

7.3.2. Daily stand-up meetings

7.3.3. One-on-one meetings

7.4. Don’t punish for lack of trying or lack of success

7.5. Homework

7.5.1. Homework is a personal commitment, not a task

7.5.2. Homework has follow-up

7.5.3. Homework examples

7.6. Pace yourself and your team

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

7.8. Are there situations where you shouldn’t grow people?

7.9. Next up

7.10. Summary

8. Using clearing meetings to advance self-organization

8.1. The meeting

8.2. What just happened?

8.3. What is integrity again?

8.3.1. The structure of the meeting

8.3.2. The meeting

8.3.3. Your closing words

8.3.4. The overall point of this meeting

8.4. Keeping the meeting on track

8.5. Next up

8.6. Summary

Part 4: Self-Organization Mode

9. Influence patterns

9.1. What about using my authority?

9.1.1. An imaginary example, using an influence force checklist

9.2. Next up

9.3. Summary

10. The Line Manager Manifesto

10.1. The Line Manager Manifesto

10.2. Survival mode

10.2.1. Projects in survival mode

10.2.2. Teams in survival mode

10.2.3. Individuals in survival mode

10.2.4. Sharing responsibilities is caring: team leads and managers

10.3. Learning mode

10.3.1. Projects in learning mode

10.3.2. Teams in learning mode

10.3.3. Individuals in learning mode

10.4. Self-organization mode

10.4.1. Self-organizing projects and teams

10.4.2. Self-organizing individuals

10.5. Other burning questions:

10.6. Next up

10.7. Summary

Part 5: Notes to a software team leader

11. Feeding back by Kevlin Henney

11.1. Roy's analysis

11.2. Exercises

12. Channel conflict into learning by Dan North

12.1. Roy's analysis

12.2. Exercises

13. It's probably not a technical problem by Bill Walters

13.1. Roy's analysis

13.2. Exercises

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

14.1. Roy's analysis

14.1.1. Exercises

15. Document your air, food, and water by Travis Illig

15.1. Document your air, food, and water

15.1.1. Enable team members to help themselves

15.1.2. Give new team members confidence in the team

15.1.3. Provide visibility into your team

15.2. Find a location and tend the document

15.2.1. Document as questions arise

15.2.2. Pass it by exiting team members

15.2.3. Give it to new team members

15.2.4. Update as changes occur

15.2.5. Keep your document fairly lightweight and easy to maintain

15.3. Roy's analysis

16. Appraisals and agile don't play nicely by Gary Reynolds

16.1. Roy's analysis

16.2. Exercises

17. Leading through learning: the responsibilities of a team leader by Cory Foy

17.1. Roy's analysis

18. Introduction to the Core Protocols by Yves Hanoulle

18.1. Roy's analysis

18.2. Exercises

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

19.2. Roy's analysis

20. Leadership and the mature team by Mike Burrows

20.1. Roy's analysis

21. Spread your workload by John Hill

21.1. Roy's analysis

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

22.1. Making your team manage their own work

22.2. Teach them how to do it

22.3. Roy's analysis

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

23.1. Roy's analysis

23.2. Exercises

24. Keep developers happy, reap high-quality work by Derek Slawson

24.1. Roy's analysis

24.1.1. Coding standard

24.1.2. Dedicated learning time

24.1.3. Prioritize quality over quantity

25. Stop doing their work by Brian Dishaw

25.1. Roy's analysis

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

26.1. Roy's analysis

27. Evolving from manager to leader by Tricia Broderick

27.1. The letter

27.1.1. Perfection versus learning

27.1.2. Trust

27.1.3. Failure

27.1.4. Results

27.1.5. Satisfaction

27.2. Roy's analysis

28. Affecting the pace of change by Tom Howlett

28.1. Ten years

28.2. Why so long?

28.3. Team-based ideas

28.4. Consensus

28.5. Personalities

28.6. Conflict

28.7. Barricades

28.8. Pace

28.9. Roy's analysis

29. Proximity management by Jurgen Appelo

29.1. The first approach: move your ass

29.2. The second approach: move your desk

29.3. Roy's analysis

30. Babel FishGil Zilberfeld

30.1. A team leader needs to communicate through multiple channels

30.2. Roy's analysis

31. You're the lead, not the know-it-allby Johanna Rothman

31.1. Roy's analysis

31.1.1. Being the bus factor

31.1.2. Coaching versus command-and-control leadership

32. Actions speak louder than words by Dan North

32.1. Roy's analysis

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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