Mistakes I made as a leader and my way of overcoming them

SJ Innovation Blog

When in IT industry, we hear the word Lead/leader we tend to think of someone who does no work and always tries to push things from his/her plate to someone elses and goes on vacation every other month. Well, that was my idea till I became a Lead myself. And how wrong I was!! Being a lead may sound fancy and can give you some authority over many things, but the amount of pressure it brings along is beyond imagination.

Ever since I became one, I read many books and hundreds of articles aboutleadership skills. No one seems to understand or tell you what you should do in real life situation or when you are about to get grilled by CEO or board managers. Before being a Lead Project Manager, my only concerns were my own projects and whether I was following company rules while completing those projects. Now I still have my own projects, on top of that I monitor how other project managers are doing. Process that company currently has whether it is ideal for all or not, come up with new ideas that will bring more revenue, organize bi weekly Project Manager meetings, join sales and marketing meetings etc. First couple of months only thing I could imagine was how to fit in 28 hours in a day.

John Maxwell said, A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way. I made many mistakes in first few months I must agree. I was so energized that I wanted to implement all the brilliant (so called) things at once, I wanted to take everyone in my boat of ideas and ride along. I wanted to make a difference. But just like all the fingers in your hand are not same, not everyone in your team are also same. Not everyone is willing, not everyone believes in change, not everyone understands the concept even. I felt I am convinced so everyone should just follow my lead. I had to put a break on those ideas as I accomplished nothing in those days besides creating confusion among team members.

Then I took a deep breath and went to see what went wrong. First mistake; before thinking everyone will follow me just because management thinks I am capable of leading, I should have created a case for myself to the team and prove that I can lead them and I can be trusted.

If you are to lead a team, members need to believe that you will be thereto pick them up when they fall before anyone else. You must win their trust first before even thinking to lead them. People follow people who know where they are going. Also, listen to every single member and understand what they can bring to team. Leader must understand that not everyone is a visionary and wants to go out and make a difference. Read the other day in some blog post Leaders who dont listen will eventually be surrounded by people who have nothing to say and I cannot agree more on this.

And of course, take time in explaining why changes are being made; from sales perspective to marketing perspective. Basically think of your idea as a product and you are the sales person for that and now you have to sell it to your team members. One idea that worked for me is that instead of trying to sell to everyone, try to convince to one or two members in the team and then allow them to explain it to others. It is an easier and stress free approach to implementing any changes or introducing new process.

And finally; even after a year i am still planning my first vacation.. hmm.

Arif Islam
SJ Innovation LLC
Where employee happiness generates client success.
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