Leadership

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Leadership Roles

To ensure that our processes are managed effectively and to promote accountability between employees while ensuring high performance, we defined two types of leaders in our company: the managers and the tech leads.
Before introducing them, it's important to clarify the difference and definition of a Team, a Division, and a Department which are part of our Team Management strategy.

Managers vs. Tech Lead

While a manager is responsible for their division's career management, a Tech Lead as the name implies is the leader of a department when it comes to operations. This position is assigned to a subject matter expert that masters the department's processes and tools. It's under their responsibility to manage the department's standard operating procedures in Confluence, our internal wiki, and also to ensure cross-department processes are well-documented and understood on an organizational level.

Who can be a Tech Lead

A Tech Lead usually is an Individual Contributor Level 3 and UP, or a manager Level 1 and manager Level 2 Step 1 or 2 - and because they are accountable for knowledge transfer, they are also responsible for onboarding new employees in their departments and managing the department's Knowledge Hub which is part of Secure Group Knowlegde. A manager Level 2 Step 3 and UP ideally shouldn't be a Tech Lead as they are focused on people's performance and that would mean they didn't grow their team enough to have an exclusive Tech Lead.

In terms of structure, in simple words, each division has a manager, and each department has a tech lead to support them and to ensure we are getting the work done effectively while progressing in our careers.

Leadership Responsibility Activities Focus
Manager Growth of Individuals
  • Provides 1:1 coaching: based on data
  • Responsible for Career Development and Performance Reviews (with inputs from Scrum Master and Tech Lead)
  • Levels up a functional skillset
  • Organizes communities of practices that encourage members from different cross-functional teams and divisions to share knowledge through regular meetings, raising the bar in their area of expertise
  • Protects teams and divisions from distractions and unrelated or unnecessary work
  • Understands, teaches, or sponsors the software and hardware engineering skills needed to support the development of high-quality code, components, systems, and solutions
Performance
  • Provides context, coaching, and training
  • Helps to build Agile Milestones and Roadmaps, and the plans to enable them
  • Helps to develop, implement, and communicate the strategic framework
  • Supports teams and divisions by helping them remove systemic impediments and by implementing continuous improvement
Tech Lead Technology (Subject Matter Expert)
  • Provides expert opinion and direction regarding processes
  • Transfers SG knowledge and department's knowledge to others: Tech-session
Processes Improvement
  • Resource Allocation
  • Identifies and addresses process inefficiency
  • Establishes SOPs, Best Practices, and Playbooks
  • Provides the necessary tools
  • Maintain the documentation in the department's Confluence space
  • Ensure the department’s Knowledge Hub is correctly documented and up-to-date
  • Delegates tasks in Process Improvement project in Jira
  • Task management and tracking: Data
  • Fire fighting

Traits of Leadership

We have seen that by setting the right context our employees can understand our mission and vision and create a great product.

The leadership styles in the company support this. Regardless of your role, to ensure effective people management and growth, we strive to shift away from “controlling activities” towards a synergistic relationship between employees.

What makes a good leader is a concept that can vary per team, organization, and people’s personal opinion. At Secure Group we recognize that and that’s why we decided to define what makes a good leader in our company considering our specific reality and unique teams.

In a “Context, not Control” environment, you still need people to coach and provide directions, but this is not the traditional role of a leader. That’s why we are looking for the ones that can embrace the core principle of caring for others and giving up control rather than seeking control.

In Secure Group everyone is treated equally. Employees gain a chance to learn, and to set and accomplish goals with the support of their leader.

Qualities of our Leaders

Even though each level has specific leadership traits that are expected according to their core duties, there are some qualities you can find in each one of all our leaders:

  • Are adaptive

Our leaders can easily navigate between adaptive and technical challenges. They excel at guiding their teams, divisions and departments when dealing with consequential changes in uncertain times when no clear answers are forthcoming.

  • Value diverse opinions

Value everyone’s contributions and regularly seek out opinions.

  • Cultivate a culture of trust

People are comfortable going about their activities in an environment of mutual trust and support. There is no back-stabbing and sharing is encouraged.

  • Develop other leaders

Our leaders provide opportunities for learning and growth, demonstrating by example and teaching others to lead. They give up power and have deputies lead, replicating this mindset through the organization.

  • Encourage

The hallmark of our leaders is encouragement. The true leader says, “Let’s go do it,” not, “You go do it.”.

  • Sell instead of tell

An effective leader, for us, is the opposite of a dictator. The aim is to persuade rather than command.

  • Think you, not me

There’s a selfless quality about what we expect from our leaders. Those who only think, “How does this benefit me?” are disqualified. 

  • Think long-term

Our leaders are constantly thinking about the next generation, the next leader, the next opportunity. They make continual tradeoffs between what’s important for today versus what needs to be done for the future.

  • Act with humility

Secure Group leaders are not concerned with job titles. A title is not a way to show he/she is in charge or “better than everyone else”. Instead, they act in a caring way towards others. Nothing is beneath them and they may be seen picking up trash or cleaning a table. They set an example of service. For us, it is not about the leader, it is about others.

Management Levels

We already explored the differences between a Manager and a Tech Lead. Besides this definition, we currently have four leadership levels for managers with different expected traits but similar objectives: lending support to addressing the needs and wants of the people and the organization. This is our priority. This contrasts with the leader-first perspective, where a person aims to gain control quickly, often driven by material gain or influence but it’s our way to ensure autonomy, accountability, innovation and high-performance.

Level 1 – Our pace setters

The core duty of the Level 1 managers is to get the work done through process management, which means they have an input and an output and they have to ensure the effective execution of these processes. They are in contact with customers, suppliers, and employees of all levels, therefore they need to navigate frequently between different audiences to set up the right context.

Level 1 managers are required to deliver fast results. These leaders are primarily focused on performance. They often set high standards and hold their colleagues accountable for hitting the team's goals.

The fast-paced work environment fostered by them can also create miscommunications so to ensure effectiveness they have to be able to provide clear instructions and have an outstanding ability to manage adversities, chaos, and change.

Level 2 – Our coaches

Level 2 managers are responsible for the performance of their teams and/or division. They are involved in strategic decisions and are required to anticipate technical issues and complex and ambiguous problems or opportunities that are often systemic with no readily understood answers. They are responsible for identifying these situations in their teams, requiring a change of mindset or attitude, and providing the right corporate context.

They are quick to recognize their subordinates’ strengths, weaknesses, and motivations to help each individual improve. They assist employees in setting smart goals, ensure quality and efficiency through processes management, and provide regular feedback with challenging initiatives to promote growth. They’re skilled in setting clear expectations and creating a positive, motivating environment.

Level 2 managers promote the development of new skills, innovation, free-thinking, and empowerment while building high-performing teams.

Level 3 – Our visionaries and servant leaders

The core duties of our Level 3 managers are strategic and high-level. They are responsible for providing direction for different divisions and at the same time ensure there are no knowledge gaps in them. They are constantly monitoring the market and Secure Group strategy to ensure our competitive advantage. They have a powerful ability to drive progress and usher in periods of change by inspiring employees and earning trust for new ideas. They are also advisors in establishing a strong organizational culture by fostering confidence among direct reports and colleagues alike.

Level 3 managers live by a people-first mindset and believe that when people feel personally and professionally fulfilled, they’re more effective and more likely to produce great collaborative work regularly. These leaders are exceptionally skilled in building employee morale and helping people re-engage with their work.

Focused on the big picture, they have the capacity to boost employee productivity, improve employee development and decision-making, cultivate trust, and create future leaders. Level 3 managers help the company to grow, unite teams and improve outdated technologies or practices.

Level 4 – Our transformational leaders

Our Level 4 managers are responsible for setting strategic direction, developing context, and fostering our corporate culture on an organizational level. They focus on clear communication, goal-setting, and the company’s productivity.

Instead of placing the majority of the energy into each employee’s individual aspects, they are driven by a commitment to organizational objectives. However, they are also committed to developing the next generation of Secure Group leaders and build a strong relationship with our shareholders. The level 4 managers also value the company's ethics and people while focusing on high-performance in the long term.

Key concepts

  • Level 1 managers are responsible for coordinating processes and stakeholders. Might manage a Team.
  • Level 2 Step 1 and Step 2 managers are involved in the operation and execution of their department's processes while Level 2 Step 3 and Step 4 are responsible for process management on a higher level of report, design, automation, and monitoring. Manage a Division
  • Level 3 managers are responsible for coaching and ensuring people's growth in more than one team or department. Manage a Division with multiple Team under.
  • Level 4 managers focus on the organization's performance, growth and alignment. Manage more than one Division.

Management Perspectives

We have four levels as per the Management Path and to move up from one level to the other in the four roles, it’s evaluated the authority and involvement regarding:

  • Technical Leadership
  • Business Leadership
  • Career Management Leadership
  • Adaptive Leadership

Technical Leadership

Technical Leadership refers to the ability to anticipate and find solutions for technical challenges. It’s completely related to our Process Management, Team Management and Knowledge Management strategies. In this perspective we created two definitions: Completeness and Achievement.
Completeness are related to your core duties and it refers to setting-up, improving and adapting processes in order to cover all aspects of our business. In terms of knowledge it’s related to ensuring that all the set of knowledge in the company is mapped, defined, covered and with ceremonies defined for structured communication.
Achievement, on the other hand, is related to your performance and how you guarantee people are accountable for the company’s processes and constantly improving and applying the needed technical knowledge and communicating effectively for us to have competitive advantage.

Business Leadership

Business Leadership is all about strategic management. It’s defined as the ability to overcome strategic challenges and the ability to set up context for the subordinates and stakeholders. In this perspective, we defined one matrix with two aisles: Capability and Opportunity.

Capability opportunity.png

Capability Assessment

Refers to their ability to execute their core duties and assess their team's and division's capability to accomplish business goals and it's divided into three categories:

  • General Factors: owning the technical knowledge needed for the role, understanding the team's and/or division domain and the feasibility of their team's and/or division's technical knowledge, and the needed technical knowledge at a company level.
  • Internal Factors: the leaders' Secure Group Knowledge in terms of who we are as a company and what we offer.
  • External Factors: the understanding of our market and industry concepts.

Opportunity Finding

Opportunity refers to three criteria that enable our leaders' high performance:

  • Experience: the majority of people's learning and knowledge comes from on-the-job experiences that equip them with the opportunity to discover and develop job-related skills, address challenges, and learn from their mistakes. Through working in cross-department projects, contact with stakeholders, and complex tasks, leaders build the knowledge of how their role reflects on and is affected by the roles of others.
  • Exposure: the leader's ability to expose themselves to our challenges, work closely together with team members and other managers, under a more collaborative and cooperative approach. This supportive element assists in making learning self-driven and more autonomous.
  • Education: a smaller portion of the knowledge required for finding opportunity comes from a more formalized approach to learning, with courses, formal training, and e-learning which are contemplated in our Training Benefit Policy

Career Management

Career Management Leadership refers to the ability of the leader to place the people with the right set of skills and knowledge in the teams and/or divisions and to help them grow. In this perspective, completeness relates to the core duties of having all the necessary positions in the company mapped so we can achieve our goals. It also includes if the performance evaluations and career pathing are done on time and according to our Management Model.
Achievement refers to ensuring we have high-performers filling the needed positions in the teams and/or divisions and that they are constantly developing and growing which is also connected to your performance.

Adaptive Leadership

A lot of times in our “Context, not Control” environment, as we mentioned, chaos tends to arise motivated by constant change. Adaptive Leadership refers to the ability of our leaders to successfully conduct people during such moments in which the technical knowledge will not be the solution for the challenges.
These moments require employees to adapt and usually involve a change of mindset and/or attitude, but that is easier said than done, since each person tends to react differently to changes. In this scenario we considered 6 perspectives:

  • Get on the balcony

Ability to view distant yourself from the situation and analyze the responses of participants. It’s a mental “balcony”. When in the balcony, leaders can see patterns, minimize one's own emotional responses, and react (or not!) in ways that will help the other members to engage in the adaptive challenges.

  • Identify adaptive challenges

Ability to identify challenges that require people to learn new ways of doing things, re-think their attitudes, mindset, values, and norms, and adopt an experimental mindset open for change.

  • Regulate distress

Ability to act as a facilitator for employees to see the need for change while ensuring they do not become too overwhelmed by the change itself.

  • Maintain disciplined attention

Ability to identify and counteract any type of distraction that could prevent people from dealing with adaptive challenges.

  • Get the work done

Ability to place the work where it belongs being willing to be part of the challenge rather than directing its solution by providing answers from a position of a leader and ensuring people are progressing in their work.

  • Protect the voices from below

Ability to weigh and give voice to all people willing to experiment and learn. The leader incentives original voices that eventually got discouraged or silenced in the organization even if they are not as articulate as one would wish.  

Leaders in Conclusion

  • Leaders support others to serve the needs of the organization.
  • They do not seek prestige, status, material gain or control.
  • They offer coaching and opportunities for growth, providing a demonstrable example of expected behaviors.