Tuesday 26 August 2014

I was humble once and I was awesome at it or 5 Rules to Being a Great Team Lead

I often mock humility with my favourite saying "I was humble once and I was awesome at it."

The truth is that I think humility is a virtue. It is a moral excellence and one that many claim to possess but then fail miserably at.

The reason I bring it up in this context is because you can not enable and serve a team unless you possess the ability to put yourself last and not aspire to take the credit.

In the last few years, I have worked with egos that would sink the Titanic. Most have been brilliant individuals that for some reason craved the acknowledgement of their brilliance to sustain them.

There is one thing that I do well and it is building teams. That doesn't mean I am awesome at hiring geniuses. It doesn't mean I am great at finding combinations of people that work together. That doesn't mean my teams exist because of me. The one thing I do well is serve my teams. I exist to build a safe and sustaining environment that allows people to do their jobs.

People want to do good work. They want the 8 hours they spend every day to mean something. Most people don't want to run the world. In fact, they want that kind of rubbish to be kept out of their way so they can contribute to the best of their abilities.

I have five rules that I believe make a great team lead:

  1. Lead from behind - enable your team to do what they do best. Don't pull them along by a collar;
  2. Share the fame and share the blame - don't single anyone out as a hero or a villain. Teams produce great results, not individuals;
  3. Celebrate all the wins, no matter the size - don't wait for external validation to celebrate your team. Make the little moments big moments and the big moments, amazing;
  4. Lead the charge and die trying - always be part of delivery and contribute to success. No one will follow you if they don't think you truly understand what it is like to be them; and 
  5. Have fun - life is too short to be serious all the time. There is a time for seriousness and that is usually with your clients. With your team, you should be a person who laughs or cries or falls flat on your face. Being real will allow people to be themselves and when they are themselves, they will be great.
Humility involves succeeding and failing. Both are valid. Failing is ok as long as you learn from it. Success is ok as long is it doesn't go to your head.

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