As Batman has Robin, as Maverick has Goose, as Frodo has Sam… chances are you need a sidekick.
On one hand, a sidekick will be at your side whenever you’re in big trouble.
On the other hand, a sidekick is someone you can train as your replacement.
If you don’t have a sidekick, you’d better look for one.
“Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t–you’re right.”
― Henry Ford
Don’t give up.
Don’t let others give up.
And most important; Don’t MAKE others give up.
Like a tennis player who always run an extra step and returns one more ball, this resilience will give you an extra chance to get your project’s goal. As an individual contributor, you always have the option to never give up.
When a colleague is in trouble or has failed, you can always show up and offer some help, whether it represents a helping hand, a good piece of advice or just listening to some whining. As a team member, you always have the option to support the rest of the team.
Finally, as a boss or a leader, you have the power to MAKE others give up. Everyday, intended or not, you are leading by example. If you are not recognizing their good work, if you look depressed or desperate, if you just punish the one who tries to make a difference or goes the extra mile, you are setting the stage for people giving up. And there’s no bigger single tragedy for the performance of a team, that having team members who doesn’t feel like doing their best. If someone doesn’t think the work is worth the effort, they won’t fight enough to get the task done. As a leader, never ever allow yourself to make your team give up.
Never give up. Don’t let others give up. And absolutely never MAKE others give up.
When they had the earthquake in San Francisco
Back in nineteen-six
They said that Mother Nature
Was up to her old tricks
That’s the story that went around
But here’s the real low-down
Put the blame on Mame, boys
Put the blame on Mame
Gilda Mundson (singing on 1946 film Gilda)
A leader is eager to let team members make their own bets.
A leader is willing to accept the blame when some of the bets go wrong.
If you want the team to grow, you need both sides of the equation.
So be always ready to sing the song.
The frontier between Kingdom of The Project Manager and Republic of the Team Leader is subtle and, too often, unexplored.
Projects will need planning on the short term to keep them within the company’s strategy, and will need several sorts of management on the mid-term.
On the other hand, teams, specially unexperienced ones, will need a guide on a daily basis to assure everyone is working at full efficiency.
“[Project Manager’s] job is not to advocate for the project, but to be objective […] and determine what is working, what needs improving, and what must be jettisoned. This takes the project manager out of the role of managing a project team and into the frontier of leading both the team and the stakeholders.” (American Management Association Play book, T.Williams)
If both roles have to be played by different people, chances are this people will conflict in several areas. This is my mental image to keep the whole relationship consistent.
Cyclops, as the Team Leader for the X Men, is a primum inter pares, respected for his experience and capable of making the team working together to conquer goals far beyond the isolated powers of each one. He is always in the battlefield with the team and will command when needed.
Professor X, as the Project Manager, have to have many things in his brain. Both from within the team and from the environment. Interferences from other organizations or from the government. The competition’s master plan. Legal issues and long term goals. And of course, taking care of his team, potentiating it as a group, providing it with the tools they need, and keeping them in the right mid term direction.
Related: What superheroes teach us about diversity in teams.
When building a team, search for diversity.
If everybody agrees on everything, every time, then somebody is doing something wrong. And chances are it’s you.
Put together different abilities, try to combine several points of view. Then give your team a clear set of common goals and a path to start doing some great work. And then, let them do it.