DevOps And Leadership
Scott Maxwell (Flickr)

It’s interesting how things can be correlated even when initially viewed as completely different topics.

DevOps, the intersection of Development and Operations, has a wide range of skills that are required.  Depending upon the organization the required set of skills will be as varied as possible.  But what about soft skills?  What soft skills are required for DevOps?  Well, Mike D. Kail, the CTO of Cybric, seems to think that this list is appropriate:

  • Empathy: The team-first mindset is key
  • Teams and leadership take good communication
  • Integrity is integral to DevOps
  • Continuous improvement (for engineers)
  • Make infrastructure more resilient

So, let’s take off the last one in the list, making the infrastructure more resilient, as I find it hard to understand how that is actually a soft skill and let’s phrase them slightly differently:

  • Empathy
  • Communication
  • Integrity
  • Continuous learning

When you look at them this way, instead of being key soft skills for DevOps people, aren’t these key skills for … well … everyone?  In particular, these are, to me, things that a leader should aspire to.  If a leader is unable to empathize with the people that they are trying to lead, if they are unable to communicate well with those people, if those people don’t trust the leader and if the leader is unable to change as the world changes around them, they will fail.

DevOps, bringing two different realms together, and leadership.  You wouldn’t have thought that they were connected, but they are intimately tied together.  To be successful in DevOps you need to lead a change in the organization.  You need to understand what changes need to occur (empathy), convince people that those changes are beneficial (communication) and then follow through (integrity).  After you’ve done it, you look at what worked and what didn’t, make changes (continuous learning) and try again.  If you are trying to lead a change in an organization, you need to understand the problem and how it will impact people (empathy), create a common vision (communicate), follow through on your commitments (integrity) and continually adjust your path (continuous learning).

Inherently, someone trying to implement DevOps in an organization is a leader in that organization.  It’s as simple as that.

By the way, the last item “make infrastructure more resilient“?  Yeah, that is really important, don’t forget it.  Not applicable to leaders unless you are thinking of putting in place others who share the common vision and can take over in the event of a coup d’etat.

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