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December 21, 2014 / kiranpatils

You’ve been promoted from Developer to a Team Leader?

TeamLeaderLast year during this time, I was packing my bags for an unexplored journey. Before I was signing off, champs  asked me to share my learnings of Transformation from Developer to a Team Leader. Their wish was my command! I did that and they liked it so much!

I was checking few old folders [At times, you should try this. Rather than surfing the web – FB,Twitter, Google, Mails. Try to surf folders from your machine. You will find a gold out of it! It recharges you. And it’s always good to STOP and look back!] and found that same document. I thought rather than having it with me. Why don’t I share with you! And that’s how this post came in to this world.

Since starting of my career, I was always a developer. Who would like to solve most complex business solutions. And convert Software Blue Print in to reality. While working lot of people asked, you are planning to be a Team Leader or Manager? When there was an internal openings for such places, people used to ask me. Have you applied? And the answer was always NO. As I was clear that will never go in to managing people. The reason for that was my myth. As per my perception Leaders/Managers should be :

  • Able to get angry on people
  • Should have shouting and dominating nature
  • Most of the time Political
  • Person who always sits at the other side of the Table
  • Doesn’t get involved in Development
  • Does Micro Management

And as far as my knowledge, I was far far far away from all above qualities. And still today I love spending most of the time with Visual Studio. Which I was afraid that I won’t be able to spend. And as it is said that “Human Plans and God Laughs“. Everything is already scripted! [The Wold is Stage, Life is Drama, We are Actors, God is Director]. One fine day, the need of an hour was.  I have to lead the team. When I’ve been asked — Would you like to lead? The first answer was NO. But finally after discussing a lot. I’ve thought to give it a try! [Would like to Thank you! To all the people who identified a leader within me — Please remember Only Good leader’s eyes can spot other potentially good leader!]

Long story short, Here I am in the role of a Leader from the role of a Developer.  I was not sure. How I will do it. But one thing I was sure. Will give my best to it! [Do your best, forget the rest!] and I was lucky that I got a chance to lead few of the best people I know!

As per the rule of Change, It is initially tough! [“All change is hard at first, messy in the middle and gorgeous at the end” – Robin Sharma]. But leadership is NOT as tough as I was thinking of. If you are thinking Can I lead? The answer is here : Yes, If you can breathe you can lead! But please be aware leading is sacrificing!

I believe that, Building Nation’s responsibility is on — Parents, Teachers, And Leaders — as per your life’s stage. They play a crucial role in our society! [If as a leader, you’ve insulted someone in public or you had a bad day for some one in office. That frustration shows up in that person’s personal life as well. As per stats 90% of people in the world are NOT Happy with whatever they are doing — I believe few might got caught in to a wrong job, and few of them might got caught in to wrong leaders]

I’ve already written my thoughts on Leadership in my earlier posts:

As per my experience and observation, have worked with few nice leaders (and at the same time few bad as well!) and would like to thank both of them. Because knowing what not to do takes more time than knowing what to do! 🙂 and the other ones helped me to do so very quickly! In this blog post, will try to summarize the characteristics of a good leader [what I’ve seen], it’s solely based on my observations and reading whatever I had during my working experience as a leader since 2 years!

As per my above blogs, I took learnings from :

  • Good Leaders with whom I worked! — They taught me What to do?
  • Bad Leaders with whom I worked! — They taught me What NOT to do?
  • Lessons from Best Public Leaders/Icons, History — By their life examples, Reading from their book
  • Sports — Sports makes us good team player/leader
  • Started treating others, The way I wanted to be treated
  • And the best example to remember is — Leading is like parenting!

So, you are also in same situation? Eager to know what was my learnings? Eager to see what I shared with champs? Looking for some points, what all things you should take care when you start as a leader?

Disclaimer : This is based on my learnings. I am not expert on this subject. But few basics which I learnt through my journey and have noted it down. Which I am sharing with you. So, if you think something might not work for you. Feel free to ignore it

Let’s go! (Just a note : will write pointers or one liners only. In future, will expand few points from following list If you think you need detailed explanation on any pointer, feel free to drop it in a comment) :

  • Basic characteristics which a leader should have :
    • Good human being : You can’t be a good professional, without being a good person first!
    • Good Listener — God has given two ears, and one mouth. So, speak less and listen more!
    • Patience — You need to have full patience!
    • Stithpragya — This one is from Hindu scripture– Shreemad Bhagvat Geeta – This word is used for someone who doesn’t get so much excited on Winning and doesn’t gets down on losing — Read more here : http://bhagwadgita.nimblefoundation.org/what-we-learn-from-bhagwad-gita-chapter-3/
    • Self motivated – Need to motivate team, When they are down!
    • Control your emotions/Channelize your anger : At times your role comes with lot of frustration, Anger etc. But that’s part of it. You’ve to find a way out of it. So, spend quality time with Family, Friends, Listen Music which recharges you, Read books which talks to you – Books are your best friends! — I always get most of the critical solutions while reading one of my favorite book!
    • Honest, Transparent : If you are driving a car, will you drive it. If you can’t see the road because of foggy or something? No, Correct? Then how you can expect people to follow you. When  things are NOT Transparent. Honesty and Transparency people always like to have! [Honesty is still the best policy!]
  • Initial meeting : Talk to your team first. What are their problems? What makes them happy? What makes them unhappy? What they would like to change? What are their old open issues? Old promises? Take a note of them. And act on them ASAP. These points are your first and important project. If you can’t do something, please update team with logical reasons.
  • New Place always full : When you go at new place it will be always full. People to whom  you are going to lead. Will say. Why we need a leader. We are doing our things perfect? Aren’t we? They are right. But do you know story of  – Kissa-I-Sanjan? : Read here : http://delhiparsis.com/2007/08/19/the-story-of-sanjan-kissa-i-sanjan/ — So, You’ve to be Sugar in the Milk
  • Understand the process first : Initially Understand everything and then try to improve the process. I’ve seen that, lot of leaders join new place/role and try to change everything. Based on their past learnings. But do you know that, One Size Shirt, doesn’t fit for all?
  • Reading : Keep reading, Switch off everything just 30 minutes to read, it will enrich you, boosts you! – “Reading is to the mind what exercise is to the body”Story of a wood cutter
  • Understand And Analyze : When you’ve to take any decision. First, try to understand, Analyze and then conclude. Good story to read : http://rishikajain.com/2012/05/16/a-heart-touching-story-with-moral-and-inspiration/
  • Be on TOP of Everything : Be Technically Strong and have full knowledge of everything! – I know you can’t master everything. But you should be on top of everything! – Be expert! Good leaders are the one who are ready to roll their sleeves and start working if their team needs it.
  • Stand Firm : Stand firm in tough time – Leaders are like TEABAGS This is the time, When your TEAM really needs you. And based on this time’s stand. People with respect you or NOT respect you
  • Let them fail : At times, let them fail! – Story of a baby Giraffe
  • Small things matters : Team’s small issues are Important may it be Cupboard, Mouse etc.
  • Act promptly :  No one likes a leader, who just takes an issue and works on it for ages, we are living in 4G world🙂 Take a decision and act on it!
  • Appreciate in public : Appreciate team, Make sure they are always highlighted and NOT You
  • Criticize in Private : Appreciate [Public]/Criticize[1:1] on time. Give them honest feedback (We Indians have to learn about Constructive feedback) – Don’t go and shout on people. Explain them specifically what was NOT right? And how can you help them. So, it doesn’t happen again. [Doing mistake is fine. But repeating Mistake is crime!]
  • Focus on Basics : Whatever complex the situation is — Always stick to basics. Most of the times follow your guts/Intuition — They know what you want or should do. [“Have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.” – Steve jobs]
  • Know your Team : Know your team very well. Individual’s Strengths and weakness. Their likes and dislikes. It is proven that if you give people stuff what they like. They do it by heart! I call it Know your weapons. – Do it Krishna way [This is again from Hindu scripture — Mahabharata – Where Shri Krishna assigns tasks to individual as per their strength. Like if some task needs more Strength — it goes to Bhim — as he was the strongest in Pandavas. But if it needs focus then it goes to Arjuna — As he was the Sharpest in Pandavas ]  – Because If you give someone what he/she likes he/she will enjoy!
  • Make them feel safe and trust them – No one would like to work with leader who can’t cover them from outsiders. Who is NOT Strong enough to fight for their teams. Good to watch : Simon Sinek: Why good leaders make you feel safe Fight for their rights, Even though you need to get wounded for that. At times, when someone is not in form. Help him/her out and boost them up! Rely/Trust on your champs always!
  • Know them personally – Don’t always talk about WORK, WORK, WORK — Know them personally. It will help you to understand them more. What’s their personal likings.
  • Do their tasks on time : If you promised them something to happen by some date. Make sure you do it. If their appraisal is due. Do it first. Remember Lead by Example? If you do their tasks on time, Then only they will do yours!
  • Use Technology as much as you can : Use Softwares like Google Doc/Excel/Outlook calendar to manage and remember tasks – And keep space in your mind! Learn Outlook and office softwares! They are your friends!
  • Share Expectations : Share your vision, and work for a common goal, Convey them! I’ve seen people shine when they know what exactly is expected from them. Clear expectations from both side – Rather than explaining this is not right. Be specific!
  • Share knowledge : Don’t feel insecure – Good leaders create good leaders other create followers!
  • Chunks : When you are working/going to start working on any task. Try to create small chunks of it. Ask your team to do the same. It clarifies your and teams understanding. And you will see the flaws, issues before they arise. And gradually your estimates will become more accurate!
  • Sharpen your memory : You need to have good RAM. Because you’ve to keep track of lot of things
  • Promises : Keep note of your promises – It will be a good option not to promise rather than doing false promise
  • Focus on Solution : Always be cool. Even though everything is down! Think on a solution rather than problem source. Never blame anyone
  • Accept Mistakes : Learn from Mistakes, Accept your mistakes! – And even if it’s team’s mistake for outer world, you should take it on your own! – Story by Abdul Kalam
  • Communicate : Always try to be clear in your communications. Small miss communication can create big confusions. And people starts speculating — That’s human nature
  • Be accessible : No one likes a leader, who is not accessible. And always busy with meetings or closed in Cabin. You are because your team is!
  • No False Justification Please : If something you are not convinced, don’t try to convince them. Fix it OR let them know you can’t fix it. And you are not happy. But no false justification. Because they are engineers and they are as logical as you.
  • Everyone is Special : Accept people the way they are — Everyone is special – Never bad mouth your team — NEVER NEVER NEVER do it in front of others
  • Respect Seniors : Respect seniors in your team. Complement them and never try to compete with them
  • Lead by Example – Don’t ask a task to team, which you don’t do!
  • Take decisions for team – for a team not for individual and stand by them and make them true!
  • Say “Thank you” to your team always! – Because whatever you are, is just because of them!
  • Never lose hope – The game is not WON till the last ball – Challenges for which you don’t find solution/direction don’t worry, Just stay on pitch, runs will come automatically – Story of Two Frogs and Milk
  • Leading is like parenting – Take care of your team, And one day step back. See them shining from afar. Remember the way your parent did when they taught you cycling?!

Have I missed something? Does it matches with your good leader’s perception?

Happy Leading!🙂

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