It’s like a pattern. If I am interested in doing something, I keep doing it continuously for a while. Once I stop it, I may not do that for a long time. If you see, I would have had continous blogs for 2-3days and suddenly there is a loooong gap. I did one yesterday and returned back for another one now. Similarly, I started watching the most successful and most popular TV show ‘Friends’ and I didn’t stop until I watched all 10 seasons. Thanks to my wife for getting me the DVDs.
Whatz for today!!! Leadership. I have been leading teams of different capacity for the past few years. I sure have some idea about what it is. I guess there is no one definition or method or pattern or characteristics for Leadership. As long as things are going fine, we assume it is Lead by the right person and when things are not going its way, we feel the leader is not the right choice.
I always try to work with the team and not be a ‘boss’. As much as possible I will try to make my team believe in my capabilities and thereby follow me, rather than enforce authority. Till date, it worked; or so I think.
The first thing that I do with a new team is ‘Form the team’.
Once I have a bunch of individuals assigned to my team, regardless of whether they know each other or not, I would spend the time to ensure that they get to know each other. This has helped in collectively achieving the goal.
I first try to understnd each and every individual. As you know, it is not easy or rather should I say impossible to fully understand anyone. Infact sometimes we fail to understand ourselves. Anyways, all I do is, chat with them for a few mins and see how they react to questions, situations and also understand their capabilities. I am fully aware that my inference may be totally wrong. Infact in some cases I have understood totally opposite. But without these inference, there is no way I could make any progress.
Then I arrange for team meeting and always plan it at the end of the day. I try to ensure that the meeting happens in a more informal manner. Sometimes I would choose an appropriate locations. May be cafeteria, play area or something similary. I will ensure that less of business and more of fun happens there. Sometimes, I will purposefully drag a silent person into conversations, pull their legs, etc. This meeting helps in the team knowing each other and have a common dislike (thats me). Yes most of the time, the outcome of the meeting is, my team ends up thinking that I am funny and worthless. Now they have something in common – a worthless leader to ignore or complain about. I ensure that while forming the team, I always treat everyone equally regardless of their capabilities. They should not have any grudge amongst themselves.
Initial few days of meeting helps in getting to know them and them knowing each other. But having them to work with and most importantly for me, is a little tricky part. I really have to exhibit some talent and make them believe that I am skilled. Once I heard from some one, “to be an expert is just to posses 10% more skill than rest of the crowd”. I do that initial hardwork. If I don’t posses a skill, I will tell my team loud and clear that I don’t posses. Then I work on acquiring the skill (very important and difficult job) and exhibit it in front of them in subsequent meetings. This helps in making people believe that I am capable of acquiring any required skill. Once I get the edge over, I will have most of my team come to me for everything that they don’t know or they don’t have. Eventually they start listening to me. If you believe that just because you are named as a leader for the team, everyone will follow you, then you are wrong. For them to follow you, you need to lead them somewhere and for that, you need to know what you are doing. Acquiring the required skill is most important part of it and demonstrating them is all the more vital.
Now that I am a lead for them, they will come to me for work but strictly for work. Their dislike for me is not going to go away just like that. There are steps to make them like me. One, compare myself with someone who is not as good as me and two, spend sometime with each and everyone individually. Let them know what they are good at. Just that and not what they are not good at. I won’t talk about their negatives (Many would like to call it scope-for-improvement. I would rather call it ‘negative’ so that the person gets to know it and there is a real scope for improvement). If you start talking negatives, there is a very good chance that you will never win their heart. Everyone likes to get a pat on the back and when you pat on someone’s back, it helps you to get a good name from them. You give it to take it. Once the team starts liking me, even when I am not commanding them, even when I am not around them, even when I am not working, they will be working to ensure that the expected results are achieved. Whatever contribution expected from them will be fulfilled by them, without even a single command.
Only when the team starts delivering the expected output consistently, I believe that I have formed a team. I look out for opportunities where someone is not completing their task on time. I don’t jump right away to help them or set things right or perform a course correction. I will see if there is anyone else in the team who is capable of performing this task and if there is, I would wait sometime to see if that person is utilized to fix the issue. There are few things to look for.
Whether the person in trouble seeks for help to either me or the other person who can help.
If help was seeked, whether the help was provided.
Whether the capable person volunteers to help.
Whether the volunteering was received with pleasure.
If the answer to any of these is ‘No’ then my job of forming a team is not done yet. Atleast not fully. Ofcourse there is going to be a few exceptional members who always stay outside of the crowd. Regardless of whether that member is forward or behind, that person requires attention. If anyone doesn’t stay within the team, then it is a big trouble. I always tried removing that person from the team and most of the time, it really, really helps in maintaining the team well. There were moments when I sent someone who is performing well, just because they were not working well as a team. Sometimes, I gave them a bad performance review. It is team work that matters and not just the completion of work.
Sometimes, I had members who are having totally different interests. Their interests don’t go well with the team. This gets tricky as it is going to bother & slow down the entire team. Above all, it demotivates either that individual or the rest of the team. These candidates must be sent out or be used differently and should be kept away from the team as much as possible. I believe that they are negative catalist while forming the team.
There are several other aspects in forming the team like avoiding conflicts, resolving conflict, team outing, being unbiased, appreciating, advising, guiding, enabling, etc. which should also be taken into consideration.
I am really not sure why I wrote this blog. But I enjoy being an egotist about being a good leader.