Lessons Learnt So Far...

It's been a few months since I have taken on the challenge of being a team lead for one of the projects at my current client. I have learnt a lot during the process and thought I should share some of my own personal findings for others that may be going through the same thing. On a high level, there are a few things that I have found myself doing that were very beneficial:

  1. Ensuring that your team has what they need to succeed
  2. Assisting your team members in growing in their areas of interest
  3. Trust your team and delegate tasks to them
  4. Build trust with the team
  5. Share the credit and not the blame
  6. Being transparent

Now that I have listed the high level tasks I would like to dive a little into how I went about achieving them.

Delegation

One of the hardest things that I have found, and in all honesty am still learning, is the delegation of tasks. In the beginning I really felt overwhelmed with all of the work that I had to do, which as I have blogged about before is a sign of poor delegation. So with all this going on, I started trusting the team and using the approaches I described in the How to Delegate post, which really worked quite well as the team area great bunch of people!

I was really lucky in the sense that I could trust all of guys to do their work without worrying about if it is going to get done. If you find yourself constantly following up then you know that you doing something wrong. Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that you shouldn't follow up, just that you shouldn't be doing it all the time.

So you may be saying to yourself, "Not everyone has great people like in your team" or "You were just lucky to have them". You may be right but I think as a leader you can have a role to play in by getting the right person in the right seat which starts all the way from the initial interview. If you see that the person, even if they are a junior, will not be able to work without constant supervision then maybe they aren't the best candidate for the job.

For me, some of the benefits of having self-sufficient teams is that it allows you as a leader to focus on your work. It also allows you to spend more time with the team members and find out where they are at and where they want to go. Essentially, you get to focus on them which is what being a leader is all about!

Give Credit Where Credit Is Due

Conversely, if you team is flying ahead and really doing a great job, make sure that you give them the credit that they deserve even if your leadership had some role to play in the success. After all, your team reflects how you are as a leader.

Being Transparent

During these last few months I have tried to be as open and transparent to the team as I could. As soon as any decisions were made that affected the team I tried to chat with them about it. After all, you don't want them to the information hear via the grape vine as all that will do is slowly erode any trust that you may have built up over time. You never want to be the leader that people talk about behind your back.

For example, a few weeks ago one of our team members was given an excellent opportunity to go and work on a project where he could grow into a leadership role. He thought about it for a few days and told me one afternoon that he is going to move, which I fully agreed with. The next morning, after the daily stand up, I chatted to the team about the decision and tried to find out what they thought about it. In doing this, they heard about it first hand.

Really Listening

Listening is one of those skills that I believe that many of us need to develop and when I mean listen I mean really listen. Take interest in what your team members are saying and let them express their ideas. By allowing them to do this you will find that your team will be highly motivated as they will be able to use their creative skills and enjoy the work that they do. Believe me, I have been in a situation where things were dictated to us and if I learnt anything, it was that it just breaks down morale to the extent where you just stop caring.

A side effect of listening to your team is you can better understand what colour profile they are so you know how to interact with them and learn what is important to them. In addition, you will also get a "peek behind the curtain" and start to understand what they enjoy and is important to them.

How's It Been For Me?

From my perspective this has really been a great learning opportunity and often challenging. I have been put in situations which are unfamiliar to me and push me out of my comfort zone, which is a good thing as that is how we grow and learn. In some areas, I haven't done so great but I am aware of them and I'm going to learn from the failures and build upon them so that I can improve. I can't wait to see what the future holds!

Until next time...keep learning!

Mauro Da Silva

Learning everyday about software development, leadership & self improvement

South Africa