Technical leadership: monitoring X autonomy

Looking at my career, I can say that I have more experience and theoretical background in matters related to technology, especially in the area of software development. This fact is due to having done a graduate degree in Computer Science and having read a good amount of books and many posts, and putting a large number of products into production. I say this because, despite leading technical teams for a little over a decade and reading good books and posts, I feel safer writing about technology than about leadership. So consider that when reading this post :)

In this post, I’d like to share a tiny “framework” that I’ve been using regularly in my 1-1 meetings with people on my teams. Then, I try to describe to them two aspects of leadership, which I have demonstrated in this image:

monitoring_autonomy

On the one hand, we have the monitoring that leadership must do concerning people’s work and careers. On the other hand, people have the autonomy to carry out their work. At both ends of the spectrum are two characteristics that I find very harmful in leadership: micromanagement and absence. I regularly ask the people I lead whether I’m getting too close to either extreme. My goal is balance monitoring and autonomy, but this pendulum can swing a little to one side, depending on things like the maturity of the team and the business. But in no possible scenario do I see any reason for a lead to go to one of the extremes outlined above.

As I mentioned at the beginning of the post, I came to this conclusion empirically. If you know of any theory, book, or text that confirms this notion of mine or refutes it, please share it in the comments.