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Leading Questions Podcast

We are Dawn Kuczwara and Jer Lance; technologists, leaders, and (most importantly) opinionated people who want to draw from our wealth of experience in becoming leaders and leading teams to help answer your questions. If you'd like yours answered, email us and we'd be happy to "help!"
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Leading Questions Podcast
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Jun 11, 2019

This episode's question...

I get very frustrated when things change constantly. I plan for so long and then my company just changes direction entirely and all of my plans are useless. How do I stop these constant changes or at least slow them down? Should I even try? Should I just stop planning?

Don't forget to stay tuned after next episode to hear us discuss our current bookclub book, Ego is the Enemy by Ryan Holiday...

 

May 14, 2019

This episode, we discuss “How to Lead When You’re Not in Charge” by Clay Scroggins.

Stay tuned next month for Ego is the Enemy by Ryan Holiday...

 

May 14, 2019

This episode's question:

I'm really having trouble with delivering what our scrum master thinks is a good minimum viable product. Our agile coaches do a good job of explaining what we should be doing but I can't have the coach with our team all of the time and they keep telling me that we're taking really big horizontal slices or build essentially the whole product before they have anything releasable but it seems like that is the smallest thing that can be delivered. How do you deliver something smaller without what your delivering being stupid?

Apr 30, 2019

This episode's question:

A team lead at my company leads 3 contractors that are on site part time, and they don't seem to be taking ownership of the code they're creating. The exact phrase used by one of them was: "I have no idea what it does, I just programmed it." How do you lead a team of people who are contractors when you are not? How do you get more junior developers or contractors to feel a sense of ownership about what they are doing? How do you lead when you are not the official leader of a team?

Keeping up with our bookclub episodes? Next episode we discuss “How to Lead When You’re Not in Charge” by Clay Scroggins!

Apr 16, 2019

Join our discussion of Simon Sinek's book "Start With Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action"...why? Because we said so.

Our next book is "How to Lead When You're Not in Charge" by Clay "Buster"1 Scroggins

1 Not his middle name

Apr 16, 2019

This episode's question:

We use Agile at work, but now management is doing a bunch of measurement and using dashboards and looking for better and better measures. I don't think that's how Agile is supposed to work, but they are doing it anyway. What can I do about this?

 

Apr 2, 2019

This episode's question:

I'm working on a project, and a lot of the questions that are being asked are coming off as very sexist. Lately I've been responding with answers that aren't a blatant "Fuck you", but have underlying tones of "Shut up". How do I deal with these sexist questions? How do I keep from taking them personally? SHOULD I take them personally? Should I point them out to the people who could possibly fix it? If I do tell someone in charge, how would I do that? Should I be 100% honest, or is there a different approach I should take?

Looking for a book to read? Try Start With Why by Simon Sinek, the subject of our next bookclub episode!

 

Mar 26, 2019

We discuss Ed Catmull’s book about leading Pixar to greatness in Creativity, Inc.: Overcoming the Unseen Forces That Stand in the Way of True Inspiration.

Image result for creativity inc

Our next book is Start With Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action by Simon Sinek, read along with us!

Mar 26, 2019

This episode's question:

I have a member of my new team who is very senior, they have been around for a very long time and they are a huge pain. Everybody talks about how difficult the person is, how much they have to work around them, and how much they are a terror in meetings and in any group work. When it comes to review time everybody has perfectly generic and kind feedback for the person. The people that complain the most just don't provide feedback at all. How can I help this person grow or make a case to fire them if it comes to it if they won't give me information to work with?

The "Are we the baddies" sketch: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hn1VxaMEjRU

Mar 5, 2019

A listener asked on Facebook about impostor syndrome. It's a topic that comes up a lot, both in questions from listeners and in conversation during shows. This episode Dawn, Jer, and special guest Angela Dugan talk about it a bit.

Our next book will be Ed Catmull's Creativity, Inc.: Overcoming the Unseen Forces That Stand in the Way of True Inspiration.

Feb 19, 2019

In this episode:

A listener was lamenting the holiday season and how difficult it was to navigate all of the parties, dinners, and other social events as an introvert. Their questions ran along the lines of whether it was important to attend these functions, how to negotiate the events when you're not very outgoing, and how to plan social gatherings that aren't so terrible to introverts.

 

Feb 5, 2019

This episode's question is:

We just went through a re-org at work and the awesome team I was on has been split up. I am currently waiting for my next project, doing little bits of odds-and-ends work in the meantime. I went from getting to work on an agile team developing a product to sitting by myself working on spreadsheets. How do I not let this new situation poison my attitude?

Next episode, we will be discussing our next bookclub book, Alex Harms' The Little Guide to Empathetic Technical Leadership!

 

Feb 4, 2019

Welcome to the first in our bookclub series, in which we discuss Mark Manson's The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life.

Our next book will be Alex Harms' Little Guide to Empathetic Technical Leadership.

Future books will include:

Jan 22, 2019

A listener mentioned that we talk a lot about books we've read, both in a positive way and joking at their expense. So he posed this question:

What are some great books for leaders and knowledge workers to read, and what are some not-so-great books to avoid?

Jan 8, 2019

This episode's question:

I constantly hear about branding and personal brands. They sound like bullshit. What do you think? Are they real or important?

Don't forget that next month (episode 53, specifically) we'll be discussing Mark Manson's book The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck, so give it a read!

Dec 25, 2018

This episode's question:

I've been a leader for a number of years and recently took a position with a new company. In between my coming in and the last leader exiting, the company had a more junior team member filling the role temporarily, attending meetings to keep on top of projects, etc. Once I started, this team member became very posessive of their "management duties" and was very reluctant to give them up. How do I take over the parts of my job this team member was doing without causing issues with this person? I don't want to start off on the wrong foot with them, but they are being somewhat immature about handing back the reigns.

Don't forget that next month (episode 53, specifically) we'll be discussing Mark Manson's book The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck, so give it a read!

Dec 16, 2018

This episode's question is:

I work for a small company of less than 100 employees. We're currently hiring additional IT team members, and I want to make sure that we are getting a diverse group of employees, not just white guys. However, everyone who has come in for an interview is a white guy. How does a company find people that aren't just white guys?

Our first book club episode is coming up, hurry up and read The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck by Mark Manson and tell us what you think!

Nov 27, 2018

This episode's question is:

I have been mulling around my impending severance from the company I work for, and I can't help perseverating over one detail. The two week notice. What really is the point? To give some context, three fourths of our team has either been let go or quit in the past year. Every time someone puts in their two week notice, they are let go on the spot. We really don't have any sensitive materials at our disposal or security concerns, so one assumes it is out of spite. Knowing this, when my day comes, why shouldn't I quit without notice and deny them the satisfaction?

Nov 13, 2018

This episode's question is:

I have an employee who is unhappy with changes that are being made in the company, and has been very vocal about it. About 2 months ago he informed me in a one-on-one that he was actively looking for a new job. Since then I've had incidents where I've had to speak to him about bad mouthing the company and its direction while he's still here. Also, whenever something happens that he doesn't like he says "Well, I guess it's time for me to really start looking!" I know he's been interviewing and he's been passed over for at least one job. How do I handle this situation? He's got a lot of knowledge and is doing his job (now), but he's still not providing a lot of value. Complicating things is we're having a hard time finding and hiring new software engineers, so we really do need all hands on deck right now and I'm not getting a lot of help or direction from HR on this.

 

 

Oct 30, 2018

This episode features Karen Walker helping us answer the following question:

My company recently passed over a potential hire for culture fit. She seemed like a great candidate and did great on the hiring challenges. What is culture fit and why does it matter?

Helpful Links:

Oct 16, 2018

This episode's question is:

I've been a leader for a couple of years now and have identified some significant changes I need/want to make in my leadership style. What are your thoughts on a slow/steady "roll-out" focusing on one element at a time vs. a big-bang release of "Leader 2.0"?

In case you wanted to check out our completely unaware sponsor, they'll soon have a new newspaper...The Uranus Examiner!

Oct 2, 2018

This episode's questions is:

Am I hurting my career prospects the longer I stay as a senior developer but where there are no lead responsibilities and no team reporting to me? Conversely, how long can you be in a pure leadership position before a person would have a hard time getting a development job.

Sep 18, 2018
This episode's question:
Question about applying to "senior" positions: I tick almost all of the boxes listed as required qualifications with a few exceptions I could definitely learn on the job, but the responsibilities list notes a lot of leadership and project management work that I haven't done before. Am I unqualified to apply to these? I haven't really led anything outside of like...college projects. My work is as part of a team, not leading a team.
The actual sound a peacock makes can be found here...
Sep 4, 2018
This episode's question is a long one...
It is difficult for me to get enthusiastic about helping customers who I've never met, so instead, I motivate myself by helping my co-workers. I put effort into learning how to meet the needs of each person I work alongside-- only to find they will not be my colleague a few months later. It seems a developer is expected to last only two to three years at an employer. Is that familiar to you? And if so, do you get personally-invested in building a culture, institutional processes, and relationships, that strengthen an organization on the long-term? Does that require us all to develop the mindset of a contractor, in which we do it for nothing more than a sense of satisfaction with our professional self-image? I watch leaders invest care in building the well-being of an organization which is not tied in any way to their own well-being. The colleagues whose best interests they fought for, are scattered to the wind. We hoped to make each other happier while we were there, but did all the benefit of our work go toward making a rich stranger richer? I don't want to be enthusiastically complicit in our own exploitation. But I don't want to develop a cynical attitude either. Do you consider yourself better off because you made your organization more effective, even if its future is not tied to your well-being? I wish I could build or join a team, most of whom will still be a strong foundation for me ten years from now. Do you have any advice to make it possible?
 
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