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As the saying goes ‘A leader is as good as the team’, most of the times the reverse is true as well ‘A Team is as good as its leader’.
In our part of the world, we believe a lot in bonding and forming close communities, with our leaders at our center. They are the source of inspiration, energy and direction. They command utmost respect from one and all and are a huge part of what we are as people.
During my startup, I wanted to be all that a leader should be. In the process, used to involve myself in all activities starting from product design, architecture, technical decisions, marketing and sales strategy, day-to-day operations, finance and all the rest too. The intention was to help all departments and be on top of all the things going on.
Soon I realized that there was a trend contrary to my beliefs. The team started depending on my views for everything that was going on. I was becoming the bottleneck.
This is the basis of the post: The team started becoming a shadow of myself. It could be only as good as me.
I had no clue what to do. For few months, I was able to stretch and be there at every place helping the team. But after a while, I was really struggling.. with time, with pressure of work and stayed drained out most of the time. This started affecting the quality of my decisions too.
So.. driven by compulsion, I started taking myself away from these activities, and started giving my folks more room to make decisions on their own. They were uncomfortable at first and afraid of making any crucial decisions but things improved with time. After about couple of months, surprisingly for me, the team started taking more responsibility and at times were taking better decisions than what I would have. It also increased the motivation levels among team members. All of this and their respect for me was still the same (if not higher)
I tried to see what caused this and following were my inferences:
1. People got more empowered, resulting in higher motivation to do the work.
2. They appreciated the trust that I showed on their work. This improved their morale too.
3. The decisions were taken in a democratic way. This had a very positive influence on the culture of the organization.
Add right people to your team, and then trust them to do their work. Never limit a team’s capability depending on your own.