Building a successful team: Role of a Lead

A lot has been written and talked about leadership in general but in this post, I want to talk about something very opinionated, something that I have learned over the years.

It was in 2015 when I got my first opportunity to lead a team of 5 people, where we had to build a product from the ground up. In my next 2 roles, I was lucky enough to get the same opportunity again, i.e. building a team and delivering critical projects.

Not to brag, but I have been always lucky to be blessed with the most amazing people around me, and WE managed to build the best teams with best results, teams that were cohesive, motivated, and successful.


What did I do in my role as a Lead?

The answer to this question is not a short one. I learned my lessons over time, trying different approaches, from time to time, day over day.

Spoiler Alert: There is absolutely nothing technical!

I took my time to validate these simple but effective approaches before bringing them to you. I made a checklist that can be easily referred to, and you can selectively pick or mix & match any of these based on the situation.

Here you go!

★ Be an example of how you want to see your team

★ Respect everyone equally, this is THE MOST IMPORTANT thing

★ No matter how stressed you are in your personal life, it should NOT reflect at work

★ Humans make mistakes! If someday, it’s one of your team members, don’t embarrass them, don’t hurt their self-respect, and don’t leave them alone to fix it

★ Everyone has a different personality, try best to understand everyone in your team and don’t let any biases occupy your mind

★ Learn from others, everyone knows something you don’t know

★ Share what you know, even general life experiences

★ Try to know the skills of every individual in your team and what everyone is really good and comfortable at

★ Gossip about non-work matters occasionally

★ Plan some recreational activity (game, dinner, etc) at least once a month, be it inside or outside of work premises

★ Make sure to check on their health and that of their loved ones

★ Appreciate frequently even the smallest of things

★ Talk about their future goals and put your best effort to help achieve those goals

★ Build a sense of ownership about work and tasks in hand and make sure everyone gets their due credit of every single contribution

★ Start your day by visiting everyone individually, maybe only 5 minutes, talk about work and inquire if they have any issues or impediments, resolve them as early as possible

★ Encourage and empower everyone by giving them responsibilities, start with small if they’re hesitant

★ Stress and crunch times are common, handling them is the real challenge

  • ★ Make sure that everyone is assigned to what they are good at
  • ★ Try to help them prioritize and deliver their tasks
  • ★ Be the helping hand they need, sit with them if they’re stuck

★ Conflicts are natural and can happen internally within the team, cross-functional team members and some times between team members and management

  • ★ Listen!!! Listen to both sides of the story before even thinking of a decision
  • ★ Be a diplomat and don’t take sides unless one side is clearly wrong, but more inclination should be towards your team and their benefits
  • ★ Don’t bring conflicts to public attention, keep them secret
  • ★ Don’t let conflicts change your opinions about either side
  • ★ Prevent heated arguments, make sure to realize that at the end of the day, it is just a job

★ Trouble makers, problem child type, and negative people are inevitable

  • ★ Identify them sooner than later
  • ★ Keep your eyes and ears open
  • ★ If they are infecting the team, try to intervene without exposing your intentions
  • ★ If you see behavioral changes in your good people, talk to them and win their confidence back and ask them if they need any help
  • ★ As soon as you notice things getting out of control, engage HR, and make sure that the situation gets handled positively without injustice to anyone

Most of these might not be new for you, but I am sure that having them listed at one consolidated place will help. Last but not the least, I want to say:

Reward!!! “What gets rewarded, gets repeated”

In the end, I would like to thank you for reading. Please share your thoughts and experiences on the topic. I would love to hear and learn!

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