The Field Guide to Leading Teams

23/26Fight the fire today – but don’t forget the long game.

You’re going to encounter plenty of extremely urgent but ultimately unimportant things in your tenure as team lead. Servers will go down, clients will walk away, bills will get missed. Each new day is a day to be bombarded with the trivial many.

As a team lead there are two things to mind here: firefight what’s necessary and mind the long game.

Let’s look into what’s necessary to firefight: The necessary is what’s going to drag us away from our goal, demoralize our team, or cause immediate, measurable harm to our reputation, brand equity, or bottom line. These things come up and it’s on you to decide to tackle them as a team or delegate elsewhere. If you do decide to tackle them, do it quickly, do it decisively, and resume your regular programming as soon as possible.

The truth is that the long game is really what matters here. If you’re always in firefighting mode you’re either under-resourced, under-represented at management levels above you, or under-planned in the responsibilities your team is actually taking on.

Survival Mode is not sustainable.

Best Practices

  • Take time to hold retrospectives and look for ways to improve your processes.
  • Filter down to blockers to identify trends that are slowing your team down.
  • Work smarter, not harder - automate what you can.