Thursday, May 12, 2011 10:30 AM
Around-the-clock work hours, a fast paced life and unforgiving deadlines – that’s outsourcing for you! In this scenario a person becoming a Team Leader (TL) for the first time experiences a typical exhilaration to exhaustion cycle.
The modern day workplace has created thousands of opportunities for young people to lead groups. Usually they are exceptional individual contributors who habitually outperform their peers. Their constant success invariably earns them the “higher role” or larger responsibility that they have long aspired for.
The fascination for this higher role usually stems from a basic sense of comparison between oneself and the immediate boss, or perhaps even some level of envy stemming from the belief – “he does not have to do what I have to do”. Becoming the leader of a group, small or large, is an attractive prospect that beckons every employee in the outsourcing services business sooner or later.
There are however a few essential things that a first-time leader needs to do/keep in mind:
- Liberally use training programs provided by the organization to acquire soft skills and enable exposure to other functions. Many first-time TLs fail because of the lack of appreciation of roles and contributions that other functions can make in their own success.
- Understand the team dynamics and the strain that may be caused when you have to lead a group that you were a part of. An unnecessary sense of modesty or an apologetic approach makes the task all the more uphill.
- Interaction with clients becomes a key expectation even if not frequent or solo. Understanding the nuances that go into client communications is the key to success. This is not difficult to grasp if you pay attention to client comments and expectations. Calibrating responses with experienced people within the organization is an assured way to avoid any “oops moments”.
- Understanding yourself is an important thing for any leader, and particularly so for the first time TL. The strengths that made you a TL are likely to become a part of hygiene and something that you will have to depend on less and less as you progress further. Doing something as simple as a SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats) candidly will help keep you grounded.
- The biggest mistake that a new TL can make is reacting in an immature manner when your authority is tested or challenged by a subordinate. This is a litmus test for new leaders. Taking yourself too seriously for the wrong reasons can make you completely ineffective as a leader.
It sure is a big deal to be a first time leader in the outsourcing industry, which is perhaps the only other field besides the army where your team can be as large as 15-20 people. And it’s all the more challenging because most young leaders are between the ages of 20-25! Navigating through the initial stages of being a leader is really not as hard as it looks. As demonstrated over the ages by scores of tenured, successful and veteran leaders, the outsourcing services industry is a great place for effective leaders to be born!