Approachable? Sometimes.


Deservedly so, I got called out for a bit of attitude I displayed in a recent blog post: Time for a Quick Rant. Steve Hood took the general attitude of “Do this or I will beat you” to task in his blog post The Approachable DBA.

Granted, my little rant was primarily done tongue wedged immovably in cheek. But I was reflecting an attitude that the gods know I’m guilty of and that I think way too many DBAs are guilty of. Actually, I think developers are just as guilty. And sysadmins, san admins, support desk people, QA, the report writing team, those people supporting the data warehouse certainly, the SharePoint team, and that poor lady who got stuck being the Deployment manager.

That attitude? I don’t think you heard me the first couple of (eight thousand) times I said this, so I’ll say it a little louder… with emphasis… at length… weapon in hand (figuratively, of course).

I have never, ever, put my hands on someone in anger in the workplace. I don’t threaten people in the workplace either (there was that one time, but that guy had it coming). But I am guilty of the extended and repeated rant. While it might actually be cathartic for me, it doesn’t help anyone else at work. More importantly, it doesn’t help you with your leadership position at work.

Leadership? Most of you just held up a sign to ward off evil. “I don’t want to move into management.” No. That’s not what I mean. I mean leadership, not management. Why do we go off on these rants and tears? Speaking for everyone (’cause I can, my blog, my rules), we want to be able to positively influence the decisions made within our company and we’re right (most of the time, or, well, often enough), so when we have to deal with concerns like, “Hey, that restore you ran left off a row” we launch into what is practically a canned recording of “Restores are a bit-by-bit copy of the database at a given moment in time. I can’t possibly have missed a row. How many times do I have to tell you? Look, here’s how it works…” And we’re off.

Where was I? Oh yeah, leadership. It’s not about management. It’s about having influence, setting direction, getting things going the right way. In order to really do this, you can’t just bark at people and figuratively shove them around. You must be approachable. In order for them to hear you, they must listen to you. If all you are is shouts and threats and rants, you will not be able to lead.

I think Steve is right. There has to be a level of approachability that we have in order to establish the trust we need to put ourselves in the place we need to be to make a positive impact. Just don’t ask for access to production again, or I’m getting the hose out.

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