Take Care of Yourself & Others. Tips & Resources. #COVID19

Blog: On Leadership Balance

Manny Becerra as a child

July 2016

I've grown into a position at Tesla where I get the opportunity to lead a team of dedicated, smart, diverse and committed individuals. Every now and then, I get asked what it takes to lead a team effectively and how to balance it all, especially under a fast-paced environment like ours. There's a bit to unpack here, but I thought I'd share a few quick things to supplement some relevant, earlier thoughts, and continue to do some follow-up posts on this topic. So, here it goes...

Your teammates are smart, capable and likely very eager to contribute in meaningful ways, so trust them up-front.

Trust

For starters, realize that you hired your teammates for a good reason. They're smart, capable and likely very eager to contribute in meaningful ways, so trust them up-front. Trust them to want to do good work and trust them to deliver on the work.

Interdependence

Remember, we're all interconnected. Your success, is your team's success and vice-versa. Same goes with failures.

Guidance and Parameters

Instead of perfection, seek progress and excellence.

In parallel to trust, you, as the leader, need to provide your teammates with the necessary guidance and parameters to arrive at the desired result at a certain time, so they can actually deliver on certain expectations and requirements in a timely manner; otherwise, if you don't set and agree to some parameters with your teammates on how to arrive at your North Star, you'll likely be dissappointed on what they deliver as the norm. You don't want that, and they don't want that, and, upper echelon definitely doesn't want to be dissappointed on a regular basis.

Strategy & Tactical

Depending on your leadership role, you may or may not be 100% strategic oriented, for instance, you may be more tactical, even a hybrid role. Regardless of your role though, your team needs clear direction from you on where you are going (or need to be) and the ability to execute on that vision. When the time comes, even a leader that can get into the weeds with them.

Find the balance of knowing how much to get involved on the tactical level matters, and how much to be hands-off and trust your team to take care of. Be available to remove barriers.

What that means is that you need to find the balance of knowing how much to get involved on the tactical level matters, and how much to be hands-off and trust your squad leaders to take things to the finish line. But, always be available to remove barriers, such as scope creep and general distractions. Also be on standby to jump-in and wrangle some code, push some pixels around, talk through an implementation problem, etc. if needed.

Scale or Multiply Yourself

If you're doing 5 core things right now, as a part of your responsibilities, pick 1 or 2 things from your responsibilities that you can train and mentor an interested teammate or two to help you out with. This accomplishes several things. First, it allows you to focus on a few things more carefully, while, secondly, nurturing another teammate's careeer path toward continued growth. In turn, this may free you up to also explore additional growth opportunities yourself. When you mutliply yourself, and create a culture amongst your team where others do the same, it's a win-win all-arund, and it also becomes more smooth and less stressful for individuals to take time off for personal reasons, whether it's just needing a mental day, spending quality time with their kiddos, or going on an extended vacation.

What you don't want to do is hire people and be doing all of the same things you were doing before indefinitely; otherwise, you may not be utilizing your people resources effectively.

What you don't want to do is hire people and be doing all of the same things you were doing before indefinitely; especially tactical matters, otherwise, you may not be utilizing your people resources effectively.

Progress & Excellence, Not Perfection

Cultivate a workplace culture of valuing diversity in life experience, background, and in idea and thought.

Perfection is an unobtainable, subjective construct that serves to create an environment full of regular disapointment. Instead of perfection, I suggest embracing progress and excellence as forms of measuring desired trajectory. This goes hand-in-hand with Guidance and Parameters; effectively, identify what is a passing grade for your team, including yourself. Define this, and get regular feedback from your coworkers in being key contributors to what excellence means to your team.

Once you and your team know where you're going and how you're going to measure yourselves in arriving there, retrospectives for continuous improvement can be helpful.

Retrospectives and 1:1s

Give your team public praise for their dedication and accomplishments.

Lastly, but only for the purposes of this post, setup some team retrospectives and individual one-on-ones (1:1s) so your team has an opportunity to share individual and collective lessons learned for any given project or general experiences. This intentional exercise can help in identifying any challenges that need addressinng.

This is also a great time for you, as a leader, to give individuals of your team, or the team as a whole, public praise for their dedication and accomplishments, and cultivate a workplace culture of valuing diversity in life experience, background, and in idea and thought.

Onward,

Manny


I am a problem solver: a tech and people leader with a passion and proven track-record in building and leading empathetic, productive teams—remote and on-site—within a continuous learning culture, while championing usable, inclusive digital products and online experiences. I am also a father, advisor, life-long learner, advocate, community builder, and speaker—I am Human. Learn more