Leadership Lessons to Bolster Your Software Team: An Interview with Selena Delesie


In this interview, visionary speaker Selena Delesie explains how successful teams embrace specific principles, including listening deeply, believing people truly matter, having an addiction to learning, serving others, flowing through change, moving through fear, and following joy.

Jennifer Bonine: Welcome back, and we are here with Selena. Selena, thanks for joining us today.

Selena Delesie: Thanks so much for having me.

Jennifer Bonine: Well, I'm sure there was a lot of folks in the virtual sessions that saw your keynote this morning on leadership, and so I wanted to give them kind of the behind-the-scenes insight into that. If you could talk a little bit about ... because keynotes, if not everyone knows, they're picked far in advance of the event.

Selena Delesie: Yes, yes.

Jennifer Bonine: What I think is so interesting, it's this keynote probably was picked eighteen months ago or a year ago.

Selena Delesie: Yeah, this was picked in January. Lee reached out to me then and asked me to give this talk on leadership, which is just great because that's what I love to talk about, it's that and transformation.

Jennifer Bonine: Very cool. They're picked in advance and with some kind of vision or what people want to speak about. Maybe give some people, the people watching, insight into how you came up with this keynote and your content, and what you're passionate about around that, so they have that kind of insight.

Selena Delesie: Sure. The work that I do when I'm going in to coach or train an organization, so I do agile and leadership coaching and training, the thing that I often see happen is that people are waiting for permission. They're waiting for permission to change things, to do things differently, whether it's a process or how they're engaging with each other or any technical or practical approaches to the work that they're doing. They're waiting for a leader to say, "It's okay to make these changes." Honestly a lot of these things are happening because this is what we've been trained to do for years, even from school, very, very young. We're used to waiting for permission.

The key is that we need people to step up and find a way to give themselves permission. That only happens from inside, inside of ourselves. The work that I do with people is helping them to find a space to give themselves permission to feel safe to do that, to feel safe to start working through their fears. That they do have valuable things to add into an organization and to help them to recognize that again.

All of that goes into this talk that I give and that I gave here this morning is, how do we really transform that? I can't give you more practical, technical skills that are going to give you that space. There's no more knowledge that you necessarily need to have in order to see things to be different in your organization. It all starts with each individual person. When you get a group of people together, who are all showing up that way, that's where the magic really starts to happen.

Jennifer Bonine: Hopefully you got a chance to see the keynote this morning, if you didn't I would encourage you to go back and watch that. What I think we find sometimes in technical fields or disciplines, is we focus a lot on our technical skills and keeping those current. Then, what we won't do is focus on the more soft skills and those other pieces around communication, leadership, change-management. In order to be successful, I've always felt it's important to focus on both and to practice both.

Selena Delesie: Absolutely.


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