Biggest mistake first time managers/leaders do is managing team (managing down). To effectively manage a team you need to manage yourself first. They fail to understand this is a necessary and sufficient condition for managing side and up. To effectively manage yourself, you need to manage your time, feel empathy, be disciplined, be accountable, trustworthy, share knowledge and other traits. This needs a separate discussion. There are many self help and self management books available. Pick and choose attributes which you would like to master. Your team is your army. For without a trained and loyal army, battles are not won and defenses cannot hold. You quickly need to discover the talent and let them excel in their work. For fighting hard and long battle you need soldiers, charioteers, archers, swordsman and others. Not everyone will possess the same skill set and hence identifying their potential is an absolute must. The only substitute for hard work is more hard work. You need both seals and peacekeeping force in your team. Seals give you the breakthrough on tough and difficult issues. It could be building a new prototype or designing a major component . Your long term success depends on effectiveness of seals. Once the gates of the fortress are breached, you need the peace keeping forces to stabilize and scale it up. There are no first amount equals here. Without the latter, former’s work will be a glorified proof of concept and will crumble under its its own weight. Without the former, latter will become legacy as time passes. The important administrative role here is to hire people with Gritty and Gumption. Unless the necessary people are in place, this delicate balance will cause stress on the entire team.
Once these are in place – Setup a shared vision, prioritize the work, delegate and track it. A golden rule of thumb for sophisticated and highly skilled teams – Team is not a hierarchy but a flat structure. This might be antithesis for some. Based on the task and crisis at hand, different skilled individuals would take responsibility and will pull the team forward. A team which displays this behavior will create an invisible bond of trust and respect between them. This rule of thumb will not be effective for roles which have repetitive tasks and volume driven.
Take one for the team – Stick to your ground when it comes to the team. Hindsight is 20-20. People are often unreasonable and self-centered. Be kind anyway – Mother Teresa. Be their voice. In the daily organizational noise, you are the voice of your team. Be bold and speak up on their behalf. If you don’t, no one will. Be fair and just to both organization and employee. Earning the respect of the team is far more important and difficult than anything else.
There are 2 other variables vital for team success – Direction and Speed.
Direction is a KPI of business. This is business dependent metric. This metric should be recalibrated frequently to make sure business and team priorities are aligned. In fast paced organizations, there should be a tractor beam of sorts to keep the these aligned.
Speed: This variable depends on the grit, talent, bonding, prioritization, hunger of the team. This value is set by the team based on their performance and maturity. Incentives, appreciation and other corporate activity act as a catalyst in booting this value. High performing teams in organizations most often get these 2 variables right.
Last but not least is Time. “The only reason for time is so that everything doesn’t happen at once.” – Albert Einstein.
Success is when you become great. True success is when you make others great. #success #leader