What It Takes to Be an Effective Leader in Software Testing
There isn’t a perfect formula for the ideal software testing leader. If there was a list of qualities that always leads to a high-functioning, successful testing team, finding the ideal candidate would be simple.
However, there are absolutely good qualities that you often find in successful leaders. Similar to the discussion of “How much test automation do I need?” the answer often depends on your team’s makeup and what sort of product you’re making. There isn’t a perfect equation, but there are still general, proven qualities that lead to better software and happier software testers.
Isabel Evans, an independent quality and testing consultant and a keynote speaker at this year’s STARCANADA conference, recently spoke to StickyMinds about leadership. The first point she makes centers on how good leaders don’t just focus on goals—they make sure to pay attention to people, too.
“Good leaders are supportive to people, but not ‘pushovers'. What I mean by that is a good leader makes sure everyone is doing what they are able in order to support achieving a goal,” Evans explains. “They’ll be direct about people not contributing, not taking part. At the same time, they’ll be understanding about people needing coaching, making mistakes and recovering from them, learning. They won’t expect perfection. They’ll be honest, but also courteous, considerate.”
Goals are still important, though. As Evans explains, the leader should make clear the long-term strategy a test team has in mind and push to hit immediate goals that lead to the completion of that strategy. But by focusing on the people driving your team, you avoid overworking or mismanaging your employees for the sake of short-term success.
One major key to becoming an effective leader in the world of testing is understanding that change isn’t just a possibility, but a necessity when it comes to software.
“Good leaders are also open to change, realize they can be wrong, listen to others’ ideas, and give credit for those ideas. They shine because they allow other people’s light to shine brightly,” Evans continues. “I have a friend (Yolande Grill who is speaking at Women Who Test at STARCANADA) who talks about ‘being the best version of ourselves.’ Leaders keep an eye on themselves and reflect about what they have done, to make that happens.”
By embracing change, putting the well-being of your team ahead of short-term goals, and letting other people insert their ideas into your design, you can become an effective leader in the world of testing.