Learning to Lead Big Teams

The transition from being one of the team to supervising the team is a real challenge for many first-time leaders. One key problem is learning how to let go of doing everything yourself. So far in your career, you have found that you have strong skills that other people respect. You can do the technical work, and deliver it on time with a high degree of quality. Now you have to learn how to get that work done through other people. Your success will have a lot to do with your ability to not micromanage. It is about building strong relationships with your people, finding ways to delegate that allow you to sleep at night, and then stepping back and giving them the space to do the work.

An even greater challenge is the point at which a middle manager steps up to manage a very large group of people. There can be real excitement in leading very big teams. Big teams have much greater impact on the future of the organization, and they need to be shaped and molded to embrace change and improvement. Now the trick is to learn how to work effectively with such large groups. A recent conversation with the top executive of a very large and complex organization revealed a few key things to keep in mind. Effectively working with big teams requires a) consistently and repeatedly communicating about the top values and priorities, b) finding ways to engage the input and energy of many people when it is time for important changes, and c) physically showing up at their meetings to show your passion, hear their views, and respect their input and ideas.

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