My Story Thus Far - Part 2

I’m pretty proud of the company I work for. I have a CEO whom I consider a friend, and colleagues who fist bump me for no reason but to show that we care about each other. Folks who work together need to look after each other. I lead the Agility Platform team, but I have been mentoring all of our developers since 2013. There were only a couple of us at that point, but the team has grown many times over since then.

Last fall CEO Jon Voigt brought in his coach to speak with the executive team. There was no set format for the day. He just chatted with us and asked us a few pointed questions. Then he said something that stuck in my mind. He had just finished talking about his background and had given us a few seemingly random details and anecdotes about his life. The next thing he said blew me away: “Vulnerability,” he said “is critical to establish for any leader. Nobody will trust someone who is invulnerable.” So often we hide behind the professional walls we put up and forget about the fact that people relate to the humanity in each other. It was a great day where I was challenged to bring more of the myself to work each day – to look at other areas of my life and draw inspiration for how I might be a better leader.

On my first day back I scheduled a meeting with my team. There were a few new faces, but also some folks I had worked with for years. I looked around the room and shook my head: they didn’t really know anything about me at all. I had been hiding behind walls and all my coworkers could see was a tough-nut manager/developer who works too much. I was determined to change that.

I told the team about my life, about how some of the hard stuff in my personal life had affected me, how much my kids meant to me, and what my personal aspirations were for Agility. The change was instantaneous. I could see it in their eyes. All of sudden these people were seeing me for the first time, and they were able to form a more complete picture of who I was. We started talking about how the team worked together and how we could better support each other and what inspired us. I made it a regular weekly meeting – only a half hour – but it started giving us a chance to share experiences and learnings that might not be directly work-related, but which allowed us to gel more completely as a team.

In March of this year we got together and talked about mental health issues. I was amazed at how many team members were willing to share personal stories and advice about dealing with depression, anxiety and the like. Many of us were in tears by the end of the meeting. It occurred to me the Build Trusting Relationships was something that we should never stop learning how to do better.

Next – read about how factories and machines helped us remove bottlenecks in our development process.