I've recently been finding myself in a position of leadership. Not just in open source but in other course work as well and it's been daunting, annoying, and time-consuming but also unique, fulfilling, and the experience has taught me a lot of things about myself and others along the way.
Being a leader, I first thought, meant I had to know everything better than others in order to guide them and make sure things are done correctly. While knowing everything can help it’s not necessary and, more to the point, is not a reasonable requirement.
What is a requirement is pursuing things outside of my knowledge so I can make sound decisions with regards to a project. And if I don’t understand something seek clarification. Which seems to be a common theme in open source.
Creative Collab has been getting steady attention over the week and I have been reviewing the PRs and recommending changes where necessary. I also contributed by adding Travis CI. And then we got a huge contribution which was great! Except it came out of nowhere and explicitly said "This is a disruptive PR". I was not prepared to handle so much at one time. But handle it we did. I did not quite understand all the nuances of react yet.
Sure I can create a basic app and I understand the concept of using components to make it modular but I didn’t have much experience beyond that. So, together with Sean Prashad, we took the time to walk through all the changes implemented in the PR and understand the reasoning behind them so we could make a more informed decision about how to handle the changes suggested. After that we were able to figure out how to merge it with our current work.
Another theme that makes open source what it is, is the collaborative effort to get projects off the ground and keeping them alive. In class this was discussed this in relation to Prettier. It is impossible for one person to account for all possible edge cases involved in a project like that and without open source contributions it would not perform as well as it does today.
Sure, if I really wanted to I could try to create Creative Collab by myself but I could also relinquish control and allow others to influence and contribute meaningfully to the project as is being discussed in this issue.
To sum up, becoming a leader is not as unattainable as it seems. And you don’t have to be a team leader to demonstrate leadership qualities. In some projects, I was delegated the leadership role simply by a lack of others stepping up. In the future I think I’ll take that position without waiting for others to refuse. And I highly encourage my colleagues to emulate leadership qualities whether or not they are leading a project.