Leadership Experience and Advice

Sept. 22, 2021, 9:20 p.m.

There were a lot of things that I learned at Epic as I worked to hone my leadership skills in my role. One of my main goals while working there was to become a Team Lead, which essentially is a management role. I've always enjoyed and aspired to be in leadership positions, however I have realized that my leadership style doesn't always conform to the typical characteristics of a boss (loud, bold, delegation-oriented). Here are a few things I learned about being a leader and letting my own style of management shine.

Providing consistent and contextual feedback is one of the most important things a leader can do for their team members. In fact, I would go as far as to say that is a core duty of being a manager. When you're in a position of leadership, the people you're working with will often look to you to understand how they are performing and what they have done well or could do better. Consistent feedback is not only a great way to help team members reach their goals and course-correct when needed, but it also provides an opportunity to congratulate team members for good work and make sure they get the recognition they deserve. It's also important that constructive feedback be delivered properly and in a direct manner. Avoid using the 'feedback sandwich' approach of only providing constructive feedback when it is surrounded by positive feedback to avoid upsetting your team member. This can be confusing messaging for your team member, as it becomes unclear what they need to do to improve. It can also serve to undermine the seriousness of the constructive feedback, and leave your team member thinking 'well I also did a bunch of good things, so I must not need to change what I'm doing'.

Being a leader doesn't necessarily mean that you have to be the loudest voice in the room, or the most assertive when it comes to voicing your opinions. Many great leaders I've seen are a bit more reserved when it comes to group discussions. However, this doesn't mean that a leader can afford to be quiet all the time and let others do the talking and deciding. It's important that a leader can make their voice heard when it matters, and while it may not be necessary to do so in all situations, asserting themselves and their decisions in certain situations is key. Leaders must be wary of slipping into a passive role; managing leadership responsibilities should very much be an active process, and as such assertiveness and confidence is essential to leading a well functioning team.

The last item I'll discuss is transparency as a leader. One problem that I have observed while being on a team, both as a team member and a team leader is the division between workers and management. As a team member, you might sometimes feel that your team leader is hiding somethings from you or has an agenda that might conflict with your goals. The 'us vs. them' mentality is crucial to avoid, as it fosters mistrust and disrupts the functioning of a team. There are obviously going to be things that management knows that they are not allowed to tell the team, that's just how most companies work. However, I think a strong leader should strive to be as transparent as possible with their team members by informing them of policies and decisions that they should be aware of, and be straightforward about the things they are not allowed to share. Being a leader often means that you are part of a hierarchy, and it is your duty to make sure that you communicate decisions made from higher up in the hierarchy to your team, as well as doing your best to address their questions and concerns if any arise.

These are just a few things I learned during my professional life so far, and while I still have a long way to go as a leader, I like to think that I have grown a lot in the last three years. Hopefully some of the points made in this post resonate with you as well!

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