Want to be a Test Leader?

Here is how I responded to a query on a Testing group on Linkedin recently.

What role does “leadership” play in creating a successful testing practice? I am answering this question and the importance of the role by mentioning below what the Test Leader is expected to be so that success may be assured. His need (second to none) and the capabilities needed (diligently built with experience) emphasise how critical the role is if the testing team has to provide good value and ensure good workability (assuming successful collaboration with and delivery by other teams) of the application they happen to test.

Leaders are sometimes taken for granted and the role is thought of in terms of administrative work and preparing/forwarding reports and such but it is I think much much more than that. Such degenerative thoughts arise also from the fact that some ‘leaders’ work as such but then let us not call them leaders please.

(I was inspired to write this piece based on my work at a company I worked with recently. I wrote a related piece on my blog which was about how I went about creating a testing team that ticks – http://tinyurl.com/n9wks3141 ).

I think Test Leadership does not have to be about the ruthless hunter leading the pack of testers with gritted teeth neither is it about an over-reaching evangelist spewing testing jargon and process words that he thinks ought to be living gospel..

A Test Leader ought to play the role of:

  • a visionary who looks ahead and starts putting the pieces together – the right people, team structure, process aspects, test infrastructure, team growth, inter-group practices and so on..
  • a diligent builder who diligently lays the foundation of the test practice and the team ethos in line with his vision.
  • a humble teacher who breathes, preaches and practices the values of testing while his feet stay firmly grounded on the earth (which is likely to shake more often than not – such is the world of testing!) being realistic rather than an idealist with himself and others about what testing can and cannot achieve within a given time.
  • a crafty master of information assimilation, analysis and relay of content which is straight in the face and sent to all people who want a good working product;
  • a master strategist who after in-depth study and understanding uses his experience and carefully decides sometimes quickly and as needed flexes himself and his team to tune work according to demands of the situation (say where where time to completion is past and panic has gripped all and sundry the leader knows it is time to re-strategise)
  • a motivator who pioneers changes both in functioning of work and changes in the mindset of his own, his team and those impacting the delivery of application being tested.
  • a mentor who constantly looks within the team for future leaders and moulds their thoughts as he listens and giving direction to their actions keeping in mind a tomorrow where he may not exist but work will have to go on as efficiently as before.
  • a caring human who values integrity and professionalism and practices it in full view of all in an unassuming manner.

It seems a heady list for sure but not hard to find within those who have passion and who can gaze into the horizon.

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