Coaching the Alpha Male

This article on executive coaching says: Highly intelligent, confident, and successful, alpha males represent about 70% of all senior executives. Natural leaders, they willingly take on levels of responsibility most rational people would find overwhelming. But many of their quintessential strengths can also make alphas difficult to work with. Their self-confidence can appear domineering. Their high expectations can make them excessively critical. Their unemotional style can keep them from inspiring their teams... Coaches get the alpha's attention by inundating him with data from 360-degree feedback presented in ways he will find compelling. Such an assessment is a wake-up call for most alphas, providing undeniable proof that their behavior doesn't work nearly as well as they think it does. That paves the way for a genuine commitment to change. To change, the alpha must admit vulnerability, accept accountability not just for his own work but for others', connect with his underlying emotions, learn to motivate through a balance of criticism and validation, and become aware of unproductive behavior patterns.
Reflection: What sort of working environments would prevent an Alpha Male from admitting any kind of vulnerability? What sort of environments would push software Alpha Males "to the top"? How would you coach an Alpha Male developer or a software team in these sorts of environment?

A problem cannot be solved by the same level of thinking that created it

One of the thorniest problems in the transition to agile software development is finding the right role for a traditional project manager. Here are some of the prevalent options and attitudes:

Strong management is absolutely critical to the successful adoption and application of agile methodologies.

"Underperformers take an inordinate amount of energy to manage," says Jim Bolton, CEO of Ridge Associates, a communications consulting firm. "You not only have to manage their performance, but, as chronic offenders, they become problems in yourperformance."

Advanced PM strategies: Communication, Amicability, Priorities, Focus time, Skills development, Motivation, Reflection

The best project managers aren’t just organizers – they combine business vision, communication skills, soft management skills and technical savvy with the ability to plan, coordinate, and execute. In essence, they are not just managers – they are leaders.

Let us understand that often our process for dealing with a problem, setting a goal or resolving an issue is flawed.

  • That we are repeating old habits, trying to accomplish new tasks with outmoded thinking.
  • That we may have the knowledge or the potential to solve the issue but our process boxes us in.

Reflection: Which of these attitudes corresponds with the behaviour seen in your organisation? Is the behaviour of your project manager influenced by the expectations of the organisation? What role do you think your project manager would play in an agile team?

Total Eclipse of the IDE

I try to keep an open mind about the tools I use to develop software (it helps that one of my personal value statements is "diversity over uniformity".) In my experience each IDE, compiler, framework, language and so on has both strong points and weaknesses. But I do find it helps to deliberately try a new or different tool from time to time and reflect on what I learn from doing so. So in that vein I offer this little snippet from my own experience - not wanting to participate in any "religious wars" between IDE devotees :-o
One of the nicest things I have found about working with Eclipse is that it allows you to forget about compilation problems. You can happily write and run JUnit tests when your code won't compile, even tests that reference broken classes or methods. This feature really resonates with me because I can proceed through multiple test-code-refactor cycles with just baby steps, where other IDEs would make me go off on a long detour to fix all the compile errors before I could even run the test I wanted to focus on. In situations that require several refactorings to introduce a new feature, keeping the ability to concentrate on one thing at a time is just what I need.
Reflection: Which IDEs have you used? What do you like or dislike about each one? What are the particular circumstances in which one would be preferable to another?