Saturday, December 24, 2016

Test Automation Leadership

I love being "just a tester". I've recently had great success in my company expressing what I do to non-development people explaining I'm "just a tester" but they know how no one is really just anything. It gives me a quick way of getting to breaking their perceptions of what "a tester" would do, and immediately opening their perception to the ideas that I will be more just like anyone else. I don't need to explain all the details to make the connection for us to share on work.

I don't act like just a tester to most people's stereotypes. And I hope I break people's stereotypes because I still am a tester, even if no one is ever just anything.

I think of myself as caring and self-organized. I try to think what is the best for those I've committed to (my company being one) and I don't expect others to come and tell me my tasks. I welcome suggestions of tasks, I love being asked to participate in providing feedback and I actively frame tasks to drive forward business value while learning about business value.

So last night when I listened to great podcast interview on Hanselminutes by Angie Jones and Angie talking about "Leading that effort" as automation engineer, I finally gave in to realize there's a wordplay I've been doing. I say I'm not a leader. Yet I lead all sorts of improvement efforts. I lead because people choose to follow. Speaking up about things that others listen to seems to be leadership. Starting examples of work others can join to seems to be leadership. Making sense of our goals and approaches to get to them and sharing observations seems to be leadership.

People who are followed are leaders. Which made me think of a short video everyone should watch.

I can easily see Angie leading efforts in test automation as a skilled test automation engineer and a very outspoken personality. I can't see some of my colleagues leading efforts in test automation, because their focus is on the details of automation code, not on vision of where this would go and how it could be better.

We need leaders and we need experts. Sometimes those are the same people. Other times not. And I would suggest that you can't define leaders based on their work titles but more through their personal characteristics.

Confessing I might be a leader after all brings another perspective to me. It still does not mean I should be "held to a higher standard". It still does not provide an open checkbook to my time on debates on anyone else's terms. I'm around to learn - with others.