Mission Defines Success
The purpose of a software team is to complete a mission. If you are a software team leader, your success is defined by the accomplishment of that mission; you must own the result 100%.
That the success of the mission is entirely their responsibility is offensive to some leaders. They reject the notion that they are 100% responsible for the mission results.
In some cases, leaders want to share responsibility with their team. In other cases, leaders actually believe that mission accomplishment is the responsibility of only their team members and not of themselves.
Those are bad leaders.
This way of thinking and leading does not work. It results in lack of commitment to the mission results. It results in blaming, which is the opposite of taking responsibility. It results in team members trying to lead outside of their sphere of influence in an attempt to fill a leadership vacuum.
Mission responsibility is not shared with your team.
To be a successful leader, you must accept responsibility for the mission and you must be able to envision how your team will accomplish it.
Is the mission impossible to accomplish? Lead upwards and redefine the mission.
Is your team not big enough to accomplish the mission? Hire more team members.
Is your team not strong enough to accomplish the mission? Strengthen them; teach them.
Is the timeline impossible to meet? Renegotiate the timeline, reduce the mission scope, or lower the bar on quality.
Does the mission conflict with company strategy? Lead upwards and redefine the mission.
Is the mission out of line with company values? Lead upwards and realign it.
Is the mission too vague? Lead upwards and clarify it.
Is the mission too complex to oversee directly? Split the mission into sub-missions and split your team into sub-teams, and then delegate.
Don’t know how to accomplish the mission? You probably have a leader of your own. They have a mission, too. Seek help from them.
As a leader, the worst thing you can do is to fail at your mission and then to blame your team.
Accepting full responsibility for the team’s mission — owning it — will guide you to take the right actions. It is difficult to fault any leader who in good faith acted to accomplish their mission.
Own your results. Accept responsibility for mission success.