Inc.com is running a great article by Jeff Haden titled Eight Qualities of Remarkable Employees. The article discusses eight non-tangible behaviors exhibited by the best of the best. These qualities all transcend industry, but there were a few that I felt were particularly true for software development.
They ignore job descriptions
There are many external factors that can influence a software project, and any one of them can roadblock the whole thing. New requirements, unexpected challenges, verification, and deployment issues all have the ability to derail your timeline, and it will often be someone else’s official responsibility to deal with the problem. Waiting for somebody else costs you valuable time and can ultimately lead to missed deadlines or failure. Cut out the middle-men, do what needs to be done, and enjoy success.
(This seems obvious, but I’m going to say it anyway: be aware of the politics of your actions. Preventing a distraction: good; doing someone else’s job: bad.)
They like to prove others wrong
If you’ve got a great idea that others don’t believe in, there are two options: let them go down what you believe to be an incorrect or inferior path, or prove them wrong. When you set out to prove them wrong, you may find that you were actually wrong. (*gasp* I know–not likely, right?) That’s still a win, though, because you (hopefully!) learned from it. If you’re right, you’ll help steer a project toward an optimal solution and gain credibility with your team.
I think healthy competition also falls into this category. If you have individuals competing with each other to find an optimal solution, you’re more likely to find it than if you have a single person trying to accomplish the same thing. Each person is likely to come up with a solution that they feel is the best, and the way to “win” is to prove its the best to their peers.
They’re always fiddling
Tinkering is SO important to software developers. It’s how you practice and hone your craft. It’s how your learn new things. Evolving your skillset and tools allows you to be more creative and innovative with your solutions, which further energizes the team.