Team Leadership – Part 1
Team leadership cannot be encapsulated in just some tips, so my post series is not meant to be a guide; just consider it as my little notebook.
I’ve led small and medium groups for a while (let’s see… 8 or 9 years, roughly). I led teams with members of different cultures, social conditions, and even time zones. I led not only IT groups, but also sports and recreational teams with very different profiles. I also completed some leadership courses, and a stress management course in 2005. Since then, I’ve been trying to find out my own method. In all the “experiments” I conducted, I identified some patterns and sharing that is the main objective of this series of posts.
My series of posts will deal with topics like the personality of leaders, issues regarding the team, team member analysis and tracking, team personality, continuous evolution, and some other matters from different experiences that I collected in my time as team leader, as well as team member.
Let’s starts with my notes:
Leadership, from my perspective, is all about balance and leader personality. Balance is related to personal life and professional life. At work, you have to be ready for the battle, without the burden of any extra issues. If you have issues at home, these will affect you and, as a result, you will affect your team. Of course, I’m focusing on the real issues, not on small concerns. How can you know if your issues are big or small? You will just know it, I mean, only you can see how a particular issue is affecting you and whether it is becoming a problem or not. It is quite likely that you can put on a poker face and keep your issues to yourself, but issues affect the way you learn and think, so you won’t enjoy your work if you are constantly worrying about something else. I recommend you to find a balance between your work, your personal life and your ambition (the third part in question).
To keep your brain in shape you must have low stress levels and keep thinking in a positive way. Comparing yourself with others may be a good option; I mean, if you are stressed because you cannot finish your work on time, think about that person without a job, in urgent search of one, and you will be able to put your problem in perspective.
Ambition is not necessarily a negative thing, but it may be dangerous if you fail to balance it correctly. A common case is that of the person who enjoys money a bit too much; that person will probably be promoted several times in their career, due to the fact that they enjoy power and money (which are closely related). If that person is promoted quickly, it may be because they have strong technical skills, or they may even have both the technical and soft skills required for the position. But what about stress? And personal life? And long term soft skills? If you are promoted quickly and you don’t know when to stop, you will be stopped by position required skills, as you will be locked in a position in which you do not possess the necessary skills to be promoted. At this point, you could start to blame the company for your career status, but it was actually you along with your long term tactics that put you in this “jail”.
You have to assess where you are, what you need to learn of each position and, bearing all that in mind, you have to confront your fears every day. When you are finally ready for it, your promotion won’t stress you out and your life will be in balance (fears —> career —> money —> family —> ambition).
How to fight ambition? The answer is simple: introspection. Introspection is about seeing in ourselves who we are and, most importantly, identifying our issues or fears. Having good introspection is the key to being able to pinpoint the correct way to grow in a company or in our personal career in several companies. Think about this: If you don’t fight for your dreams, someone else will pay you to fight for theirs. Only by keeping an eye on ourselves can we correct the direction of our professional personality.
To summarize, it is fair to say that balance is the key to having a great foundation for being a good leader: the one that may foresee what will happen; the one that sees what the team members need, even before they know it. You should have short introspections sessions, just enjoying a coffee, or listening to some music, and you will be able to manage your ambition and fears, as well as to construct a professional personality to face up to any challenges or issues that may arise, managing stress like a champion.
From my personal point of view, every group of people becomes a team when the members fuse their individual skills and ambition in a kind of “team personality”. The leader’s mission is, first and foremost, to identify that personality and to develop a plan to put that specific personality into good use. Another key concept is competition… But let’s leave it for the next post! I’ll also throw in some tips and know how regarding the ways to avoid both wasting team effort and becoming a leader that does not get the best of each member.
In my next post, I will also include some notions on introspection and on how to deal with difficult decisions. Progressively, I’ll be posting several tools to document and make decisions, for you, your team and your boss.
Please, feel free to share your comments and thoughts. All your feedback helps me to keep learning and moving forward.