Software Test Professionals asked the speakers who are presenting at the Software Test Professionals Conference & Expo 2010 in Las Vegas several questions about leadership. When asked about the top characteristics of strong leaders in the testing field, the conference speaker’s highlighted four main attributes they considered important.
1. Knowledge of the Business
Linda Hayes, Worksoft, Inc. founder states, “It’s important that leaders have a solid grasp of the business drivers and risks.” Often times, people focus on the process to manage a testing department and don’t have a grasp on the higher level business objectives. Leaders should have a deep understanding of the complex needs of the stakeholders including the customers, the organization and the team.
2. Communication & Interpersonal Relationship Skills
It’s not enough to simply have knowledge of the overall business. The ability to share this information with your team is also important. Jim Hazen, Consultant from Connected Testing stated “…listen and talk to people within and outside your group … you don’t have to be a diplomat but you do need to be able to convey information clearly.” A leader who is able to convey information clearly inside the testing department as well as outside and at all levels will serve as an information bridge to close the gaps of miscommunications and build the testing department’s value to the organization. Furthermore, clearly conveying information helps to motivate and support the testing team, create positive morale and provide a clear vision for success.
3. Knowledge of the Technical Skills
Robert Walsh, President of EnvisionWare, Inc. states that “Leaders must have a good balance between communication and technical skills.” With balance, a strong leader who understands the testing process, tools, systems and solutions can help guide team members without getting involved in the tactical aspects of the project. A leader’s ability to use this technical knowledge to be decisive and lead the team will inspire the team’s confidence in their leader.
4. Strategic Skills
Operating in environments with heavy workloads and not enough resources can challenge a senior leader in testing. It’s important to carefully organize resources to match priorities. In order to successfully allocate resources, a leader must have a clear focus on the testing department’s end goals and maintain a visual above the minefield. When a leader understands both human and technical resource allocation they can most effectively be open-minded to revolutionizing change for the betterment of the organization. Bradley Baird, Principal SQA Engineer at Symantec summarizes, “Just because we did it that way last time doesn’t mean we should do it that way this time. Be open to ideas on how to improve processes and procedures.” With an open mind, clear vision and the ability to effectively allocate resources, strategic leaders can drive change and lead their teams into the future.
Attend Software Test Professionals Conference & Expo 2010 – Where Test Leadership, Management & Strategy Converge – to learn more about the human side of testing, managing testers and the software test areas of the product development lifecycle. You will learn techniques for working effectively in a leadership role with test and non-test teams and the differences between being a manager and being a leader.
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