A LEADER’S SHOES
Who is the lead? It’s a hard question to tackle. Some might say the lead is simply a top tech guy/girl, others view this person as a conductor or a proxy between the business and the developing team. Every suggestion bears some truth to it. In fact, the definition depends on a handful of variables such as project goals, personal qualities, and many more circumstances unique for any given team.
He calls meetings, gives profound and inspired speeches and overall makes his job look highly important and himself irreplaceable. Underneath this well-fashioned façade, dwells a serious problem – the Boss doesn’t actually do much. Most of his duties are being dropped on some experienced tech guy’s shoulders, with only minute tasks left for the lead to tackle.
Such tech guy becomes an informal leader, an underdog if you will, who’s very agenda is threatening to the Boss. This path in time leads to scandals and an overall toxic working environment, soon resolving in the underdogs’ inevitable departure. Or firing. The team, losing its true leader, becomes headless and weak. The project is doomed and the firm cries for restart or dissolution.
THE MOTHER THERESA
He’s all for the team and the project. He’s always there, spending his working hours not only doing his tasks but helping everybody around him as well. Not unlike the aforementioned saint, he does everything for everyone, often taking work home. Such high efficiency eventually leads to an imminent breakdown. Unable to bear everything at once, Mother Theresa loses the plot, sincerely believing that he’s the only one who really does something here.
Although not without a grain of truth to it, this kind of behavior leads to scandals, toxic working environment…Hold on, haven’t you read the same thing in the previous paragraph, the one about the Boss? Exactly.
THE GOOD LEAD
Being a good leader is simple. In theory at least. All you have to do is do your job and do it well. There obviously is no rulebook, but it doesn’t take Einstein to figure it out. For instance, don’t set your team with people you can’t stand working with. Or don’t put too much on your team members’ shoulders. If you notice your subordinate providing quality work within an agreed time span, there’s no point in overloading him. You’ll be better off letting him do what he wants. Plus, everyone has certain commitments like family issues, or medical appointments, which should be taken in the picture as well.
It is a given, that along with your team’s expansion comes more and workload. More workload means more responsibility. In the long run, this will eventually lead to your breaking point – failed deadlines, fallen hair and eventually, you will be forced to let go off your grip.
Knowing your team members’ strengths, you can delegate some of your responsibilities to them. It’s a win-win situation where people get to try tackling new and more complicated tasks, while you get to rest or shift your focus on more important objectives. As a result, your subordinate gets a well-deserved promotion and you end up rested and with a better-equipped pro in your team.
Suppose, you’ve stuck your team together with the right people, built a self-sustained working process and made everything run smoothly. Kind of at least. Yet, after a short while, people start walking away on you. Why is it so?
People grow. People want more money, more opportunities, more everything. It’s a fact, and there’s nothing you can do about it. If you won’t provide people with what they want, they will end up looking for it elsewhere. The only known way out of this – talk. Discuss, ask people what they want, arrange one-to-ones, make raises. Motivate people not to leave your ship. Try to get a grip on what direction your colleague wants to grow in and how he sees the situation.
One thing is certain though, a lead is the one, who’s making all of the necessary decisions, solving problems along the way. Given that every odd working day brings a lot of diverse problems, a lead’s shoes are pretty hard to fill. So it should be. As Miles Davis once put it, “There’s only two kinds of music – the good one and the other kind”. It’s a bit more complicated when it comes to our topic of today.