What We Have Here is a Failure

Jeffrey Gitomer presents 16.5 reasons why failure occurs (My comments in italic)

While he is writing to salepeople, a couple are worth looking at in relation to leading software projects.

4.  Laziness. You lack the personal sense of urgency needed to create it in others.

You cannot create in others what you do not have yourself. This doesn't mean that I have to be the best coder to lead the coders - but I've got to be convinced of the need to meet each deadline with accurate code. I've rarely seen a team rise above it's leader. I had a teacher in school that used to say -'Better never than late.'

5. Failure to prepare. This is most evident in the presentation phase of persuading or trying to get your way.

Walking into a meeting unprepared is the fastest way to communicate that the project is un-important. And if it's un-important - then who wants to work on it. Come prepared or don't come at all.

 14. Trying to do everything yourself. You have a team of people, a boss and an army of customers all willing to give you help. But you have to ask for it.

This is often the hardest transition skill for a programmer become team leader.  The programmer wants to do everything - the team leader needs to delegate everything - opposite skills. If you have not fully resolved the do-it-yourself vs delegate struggle, then your team feels  like they are on a yo-yo - one meeting it's theirs, one meeting it yours.  Delegate and hold accountable - you'll accomplish a whole lot more.

He misses a few important ones for software project leaders.

a. Failure to learn from mistakes. A mistake is often very costly. Learn everything you can from it. Our nature is to turn from mistakes - to sweep them under the rug. But if we embrace them, talk about them, we can learn from them.

b. Failure to admit we were wrong. One of the hardest things I've had to do is walk into a team meeting and admit - I made a bad decision and it is affecting the whole project and team.  But once we worked through the consequences and the options, the project was better and the team stronger.