It's a fact: great teams have great leaders.

ana profile image Ana Chiritescu ・2 min read

This week at work there have been multiple discussions around great teams and with that, about my team. This is why I decided to write some thoughts around it.

I have been working in IT for almost 11 years, in 3 countries with colleagues from all over the world. This means that in a rather short time I had the luxury to learn a lot about work environments, various cultures and I also ran into multiple challenges which most probably only occur in such environments.

Even more important, I had the tremendous luck to work with and have as mentors colleagues that are among the best in their field, who also enjoyed helping others grow. With this I noticed a trend: great teams, have great leaders.

Short and sweet: teams are made of people, people are different, follow their own career path and go through various stages in their lives. On top of this, there is the human nature factor: some of us are more competitive than others, some would prioritize higher their own needs and success compared to team's needs and success and so on.

With all these differences and challenges, there are still great teams out there.

What do these teams do differently?

  • They respect each other.
  • They learn to be good listeners and take into account everyone's opinion.
  • They take responsibility for both their successes and failures.
  • They trust each other.
  • They believe that knowledge sharing will not make you irreplaceable, but it will help both you and the team evolve.
  • They are not afraid to ask for help.
  • They do not let conflicts go undiscussed, but bring these out in the open and talk it through.
  • They regularly pause and reflect on how things are progressing and look into what should be improved next.
  • They have good sense of humor that keeps morale up also during hard times.
  • They are happy and supportive of a colleague's success.
  • And they do not forget to also have fun and celebrate achievements.

Where do the team leaders fit in? They are the ones that nurture the team by encouraging the values derived from above items.

And let me tell you, it can sometimes be an extremely bumpy ride and this is when you know that change is happening! :-)

What do you think makes a team great?

I would love to hear your thoughts and comments around this.


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theodesp profile image
Theofanis Despoudis

I agree. A good leader can drive a team to success and motivate people. It doesn't have to be only one person. Anyone can lead the situation as time arises.

dijitalmunky profile image
Chris Roe

Such an excellent point (and also an excellent article). I am the "official" team lead where I work, but I can easily pick out times where every one of my teammates has shown way better leadership than I ever could have. I am not trying to be humble here. It is just that, well, as the author mentioned, teams are made of people, and people have differences. My teammates just happen to be better, more inclined, more motivated or whatever in the areas that they show leadership in. This is one of the attributes that makes it one of the best teams I have ever had the pleasure of being a part of.

ana profile image
Ana Chiritescu Author

Thanks, Chris! And with this I will add another item to the original list: each and every team member is important and they should be made aware of it! Some might have better skills in specific areas than others, but it's the collaboration between everyone that leads to great results.

ana profile image
Ana Chiritescu Author

In the meantime I received a link to this video from a colleague that read my post: youtu.be/_ztgMxdXafI. Watch it, I couldn't agree more with Simon's point!

craser profile image
Chris Raser

This is an awesome list. What I love most: these are all interpersonal and communication skills. As techies (Or maybe this is a tendency of just male techies?) we often look at issues like trust, compassion, support as something to be abstracted away under a layer of technical process. We'll say, "I don't need their support, I need admin privileges in Jira so I can assign tickets to them."

I honestly think that hiring for excellent personal skills is more important than hiring for technical skills. As long as someone wants to learn, and the team is there to help, B-level technical skills can be upgraded. But it seems to be incredibly hard to convince a developer that their D-level personal skills are hurting the team.

ana profile image
Ana Chiritescu Author

Christopher, happy to hear that you find awesome my summary of principles behind good teams!
If you read between the lines, you will notice that teams most likely are not great from the start. This is a journey, that requires involvement and sometimes compromise from everyone.
Regarding interpersonal and communication skills vs male and female techies, I've worked with both and I don't think this is a differentiating factor. Cultural background, personality, maturity, willingness to change and to learn, seniority are just a few factors that could directly impact how one adapts in a team and helps the others fit in.
I agree with you that hiring for excellent personal skills is more important than hiring technical skills. Unfortunately, nowadays it is a challenge sometimes to find somebody to hire at all. Ideally, companies would have a way to support and best leverage employees from both categories you mentioned so that B-level technical skills further upgrade their knowledge and D-level personal skills are corrected.
It was very easy for me to make the list above especially because it's what I believe in and what I try to "enforce" on a daily basis. However, it's no as easy to apply, otherwise, all teams would be great! :)

lpasqualis profile image
Lorenzo Pasqualis

Very good post, Ana. The value of strong leadership in a team is often the difference between success and failure. Moreover, good teams are formed and adjusted by leaders who can predict how a particular group of people will perform.
Strong leaders are like an orchestra conductor. They keep things moving in the right direction, but try to let the players do their best without interfering.

ana profile image
Ana Chiritescu Author

Thanks for your comment, Lorenzo! Indeed, the analogy between strong leaders and an orchestra conductor is one I like to use sometimes as well.

michie1 profile image

How to recognize such teams before joining the company?

ana profile image
Ana Chiritescu Author

In my opinion, this is not something you can easily spot that early. You can however try find out as much as possible about the company's culture, discuss with people that already work there (both your possible future manager or somebody in a similar role and employees working in a similar role as yours). This way you can take an informed decision. It can be a lottery, but nothing stops you try and make a difference! :-)