I’m proud of all my teams – good people doing great things. But I’m particularly proud of my current team because it was the hardest to form, being split between London and Berlin. I formed this team by turning up. A simple message although quite painful for myself and my family. Actually that pain is part of the reason my approach works. Leaders turn up and the team appreciates that.
People are people, they aren’t machines. So it doesn’t surprise me when people act like people. Even if what they do doesn’t suit me.
With a distributed team there was a real danger, for the folk in Berlin, that I would just be an annoying irritant in London. Demanding loads of work that they would prefer not to do. And human nature being what it is, they would find ways to ignore me.
I knew I had to travel so that I have a team rather than a bunch of resentful individuals. I’m very conscious that I can’t control anything. All I can do is influence. So I have to maximise my influence. Turning up is the key to maximising my influence. A key part of building my team.
I turn up so I get to know them as people rather than an email distribution list
I turn up to show I’m willing to suffer, and increase their willingness to to suffer later
I turn up to earn trust
I turn up to become a person (Steven) rather than a role (Programme Manager)
Of course I was an annoying irritant in London demanding loads of work that they would prefer not to do. But they did it regardless. I believe they did it because a person they knew, me, asked them for help to do something great. And we did something great.
This is all part of my concept of Management on the Ground. The manager goes to where the work is being done. Aside from the team building aspect, it also means I:
- Learn what is going on by Observing, eavesdropping and overhearing
- Spot Risk early so I can Go Where the Risk Is
- Keep the team focussed by reminding them of the Vision
So if you fancy yourself as a leader, then turn up!