You did it! Now you’re in charge. You are the team leader of your department. Now what? It’s hard to be a leader. It’s even harder to be a respected one. How do you earn the trust of your teammates? How do you know if they respect you and if they will follow you? These are the questions that bother me every single day.
I’m far from being the team leader that I would like but I try every day to be as good as I can and to improve just a little bit.
I have 4 rules that I try to follow (though sometimes I fail).
1. Don’t Criticize, Condemn, or Complain
This is the first principle of Dale Carnegie's How to Win Friends and Influence People. Try to not criticize when someone makes a mistake: we’ve made mistakes so many times that we have no right to judge other people. Instead, try to understand why that kind of mistake was made and find a way to learn from it and avoid this mistake in the future.
This is the hardest rule, to me. When I’m upset about something or when my mood is not so good this principle is very hard to follow. I try to have an open-minded attitude and to be patient.
2. Give Honest, Sincere Appreciation
This is the second principle of Dale Carnegie. I know, Dale Carnegie influenced me a lot.
People need appreciation like they need air. And, like air, fresh appreciation is always better. If a member of the team has done a good job we say thank you and appreciate what has been done. And try to always give specific and precise appreciation.
There is a catch, though. We must mean it, and I mean really mean it because otherwise, it’ll come across as flattery or insincere.
This is my favorite rule. I’m excited to give appreciation. I like to say bravo when someone does something good or on time. Being on time is hard so it has to be recognized. I like to appreciate skills that I don’t have, too. It makes me glad to be part of diverse team with many skills.
3. Help the Team
As leaders, our main goal is to help. Help can spread across many activities: explaining things over and over again until they’ve been understood, pair programming to solve a hard problem, getting on the phone with a co-worker to ask if everything is okay. We also help the team by organizing a better way to work, avoid distractions, and be more focused.
4. Apologize Early
We all err on occasion. As leaders, we are the example to follow and when we make mistakes we must be humble and apologize as soon as possible and with honesty.
This is my set of rules that I try to apply every day. Some days are good, some days are worse.
I think that, at the end of the day, the most important thing is to work in a positive environment where feedback is encouraged and errors are recognized as occasions to improve.
What do you do every day to work better with your teammates?