This article is the last in a series of three which is a republishing of my chapter on soft skills from the PowerShell Conference Book Volume 2.

If you haven’t read the article on communication or article on collaboration, that’s okay, as each article has it’s own topics. I would suggest to read them though, as it will help round out your general knowledge of soft skills.

Motivation and Inspiration

How to Motivate Others

Effective leaders know how to motivate. As a leader, you must challenge your team to grow and support them along the way. Empower them to do their job and protect their time so they can do it. Maximize strengths within the team and minimize weaknesses.

As an effective leader, you must also do the following:

  • Earn the trust of your team and fight to keep it.
  • Trust your team to do their job—don’t micromanage!
  • Accept responsibility for all your decisions, even those which result in negative consequences, and apologize when needed.
  • Recognize accomplishments of individual contributors and the team itself.
  • Foster collaboration within the team and with external groups as well.
  • Solicit and value input from your team and consider it in your decisions.
  • Provide career development for your team so they may grow their skills which, in turn, increases the effectiveness of the team.
  • Support your team through achievement awards, raises, and promotions when possible.

Furthermore, as a leader, you should genuinely care about the well-being of your team members. Your responsibilities include setting realistic goals and expectations for your team while protecting them from burnout. Do what you can to help your team find enjoyment in their job, everyday.

How I Learned About Motivation

Before I started my IT career path, I worked for several fast-food restaurants. I learned quite a bit about managing people and tasks at one of them, Garibaldi’s Pizza in Memphis, Tennessee. Of their four locations (in 1991), I worked at the one near the University of Memphis eventually becoming a shift manager, which was my first management position. One Sunday afternoon, we were busy in-house and with deliveries. I received a phone call from a catering customer confirming their order for 30 people and the delivery time, just one hour away. I told them everything was fine and that they should see us soon.

Of course, everything wasn’t fine. I had forgotten about the catering gig, but I kept calm and devised a plan. I pulled a few team members to the side and told them what we needed to do. A couple off-the-clock employees even volunteered to assist; they were immensely helpful. Within a few moments the order was being prepared and the rest of the staff was handling a new rush of dine-in customers.

As shift manager, the success or failure would have fallen on me. I had built friendships with most of the team outside of work and we all respected each other. If I was a horrible manager, the team could have let me fail. As it turned out, I motivated my team to go above and beyond.

We worked together and delivered the pasta, salad, and garlic bread to the customer on time. We also handled the influx of in-house customers without complaint. I thanked everyone that pitched in or stepped up for additional work and gave them free meals (and drinks after hours at a local pub).

How to Inspire Others

Even if you aren’t a manager, team leader, or project leader, you can inspire others to be better versions of themselves. Many topics that you have just read about in this chapter [or previous articles] relate directly to inspiring others.

  • Treat others with respect and civility.
  • Accept others as uniquely flawed individuals.
  • Focus on encouraging others.
  • Commit time to support others in the community.
  • Show humility and authenticity.
  • Share, both your story and learning, so that others can benefit from the lessons you’ve learned.


Sharing can be scary.

Being the first in something carries a certain responsibility to help others reach the same goal. From the better vantage point, you can reach out to provide support to bring others along with you. Similarly, you may not have reached the pinnacle of your own journey. It’s okay to look for help from those that came before you.

By reading forum and blog posts, attending seminars and symposiums, and experiencing conferences and expos, you’re learning from others that have been exactly in the same position as you. They’re providing you a unique view to their understanding of the topic. If you’re still having trouble understanding after the first one, just move on to the next person’s content, or the next, until you find a viewpoint that just clicks, like turning on a light bulb.

Once you grasp a certain topic, especially if it was quite difficult, explain it to an interested team member. It will reinforce the learning in your mind and, hopefully, your help will provide the co-worker a better understanding of the subject. At the least, it will show them that you care enough about their success to invest your time to help them.

There are several methods you can use to share with others.

  • Blogging
  • Presenting
  • Teaching
  • Writing books
  • Mentoring

Feel free to pick more than one from the list.

If you are interested in learning how to present a topic in front a live audience, look no further than the chapter, “Your First Public Speaking Talk,” within this book.

Anyone who wants to share their understanding of PowerShell, or any other topic or skill, has every right to do so. There will always be new joiners on the journey. And there will always be someone with more knowledge and experience than you.

The Great Conjunction

The Great Conjunction is happening now.

About a decade ago, a set of common, radical ideals drew together a few people from the developers and system administrator’s communities. Through the resulting friendships, the ideals transformed into principles which then turned into a call to action. The conjoining of words by a leader in the new movement produced the term DevOps.

What was sundered and undone, shall be whole—the two made one.

—Aughra, The Dark Crystal

As technology grows and applications begin a migration to commoditized cloud platforms, the need to deploy faster, and with greater resilience, is a critical demand. The new, fast-paced environment requires skills from the developers and the system administrators alike. Early adopters of DevOps methodologies began building bridges over the Chasm of IT. With effective communication and sharing of ideas, these bridges form the basis for collaboration that will take the industry into the future.


Be sincere and genuine when you offer to help others achieve their goals; remember the times when someone helped you.

Lead others with integrity and humility by your side while praising and rewarding their accomplishments.

Share your experience and knowledge so others may be inspired and empowered to accomplish big things too.

We’re all in this together.

Who motivates and inspires you? How have you been motivated or inspired?

If you have a blog where you share technical tricks or tips, please drop it in a comment below.

Again, thank you for sticking around.

I hope you’ve found this interesting or informative. I really would like to hear your thoughts on this article. If you have any comments or questions, please post them below.

Reading Material

While this chapter focuses on improving soft skills, the books (and one yearly report) listed below illustrate the shift in mindset required for a practicing DevOps organization.

Title Author(s)
The Unicorn Project: A Novel about Digital Disruption, Rebels, and Overthrowing the Ancient Powerful Order Gene Kim
The Phoenix Project: A Novel about IT, DevOps, and Helping Your Business Win Gene Kim, Kevin Behr, and George Spafford
Beyond the Phoenix Project Gene Kim, John Willis
The DevOps Handbook: How to Create World-Class Agility, Reliability, and Security in Technology Organizations Gene Kim, Jez Humble, and Patrick Debois
Accelerate: The Science of Lean Software and DevOps: Building and Scaling High Performing Technology Organizations Nicole Forsgren PhD, Jez Humble, Gene Kim
Continuous Delivery: Reliable Software Releases through Build, Test, and Deployment Automation Jez Humble and David Farley
Making Work Visible: Exposing Time Theft to Optimize Work and Flow Dominica DeGrandis
The State of DevOps Report, a yearly report based on survey data Puppet
The Goal: A Process of Ongoing Improvement Eliyahu M. Goldratt, Jeff Cox
Theory of Constraints Eliyahu M. Goldratt

Note: The last two books aren’t directly related to DevOps. They were, however, inspirational in establishing the underpinnings of DevOps.

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