Measuring Leadership

Measuring Leadership

The Impact of Informal Leaders in a Modern DevOps Organization

Adam Zimman, Lee Barnett, Julia Harrison, Tamara Ledbetter, Dean Leffingwell, Christof Leng, Steven Mayner


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Who are your leaders? The answer to this question used to be obvious. Leaders were the individuals responsible for managing people. Often they were celebrated for being stern, appropriately distant, and swiftly decisive. The ability to command every situation with the deftness and authority of a silverback gorilla was a prize to attain. We are happy to share, those days are long gone.

Leadership in the twenty-first century has taken a turn for the better—a turn toward people. With this change, there is an increase in the prevalence and impact of informal leaders. These individuals are followed for their empathy and ability to empower others, rather than their title or placement on an org chart.

As more and more well-established companies find themselves undergoing transformation activities, it is critical that they also undertake a leadership revision.

“Interesting, but why?” you may ask. The answer is simple: leadership styles foster culture, which will facilitate the adoption and sustainability of whatever your “new” is. As such, whether your transformation activities are focused on DevOps/Agility/Lean development, new customer-interaction channels, or something else entirely, the cultures (both macro and micro) your organizations are made up of will enhance or detract from your transformation. Taking a proactive approach will guide leadership behavior and a culture shift in a way that adds value rather than detracts.