Courageous Followership for Programmers

During Bret Simmons’ presentation on Courageous Followership I thought about how it applied to programmers. I realized that programmers’ followership is quite complex.

I have been part of teams riddled with poor and technically incompetent management. This led to the programmers on that team flouting their boss’ decisions. They did not follow the manager’s decisions because of the poor technical ramifications of his decision. In most cases, the programmers were technically correct as time showed.

I have led other teams where I made a technical decision that was flouted. In one case, I was correct in my decision as time showed. The result was several critical bugs and many hours wasted trying to figure out the cause. It was not until later that I found out that my decision had been flouted and that it was the cause of all of the bugs.

Courageous Followership espouses the view that all decisions must be adhered to, even if the follower does not agree with them. In my experience, a manager that allows debate about an issue is more likely to be followed than a decision that is dictated to them. I believe the entire team should be involved in the debate about big technical decisions. At the same time, someone has to make a decision that is good or bad.

The blogging software has a comment system. I would like to others’ opinions on Courageous Followership as it pertains to programming.