Leading teams

11 Unique Lessons From 21 Years of Leading Teams

Time flies by. I realise I have spent most of my professional life working with very talented people, leading amazing teams. Here’s what I learned.

Lesson 1 of 11:
Cancel formal meetings and repurpose them into one-one meets with your team. Spend time understanding aspirations, talents, and challenges. Get a good handle of each person’s “True North.”

Lesson 2 of 11:
People are multi-faceted. They love “personalised” roles more than standard job descriptions. Instead of developers and testers, try Evangineers (evangelist+engineer), Researcher-poets, philosopher-developer, geek-marketers, and tester-storytellers.

Lesson 3 of 11:
When people outgrow roles, don’t hold them back. Help them find the right opportunities within and outside your organization. Congrats, you have just turned eco-system influencer!

Lesson 4 of 11:
As businesses grow and new tech emerges, sometimes roles outgrow people’s capabilities. Have one-one conversations on expectations. Be specific on the details, but stay open to viewpoints. Sensitive, timely conversations build Trust.

Lesson 5 of 11:
As organizations evolve, a peer may end up reporting to you or vice versa. Team members turn clients or vendors. These situations can get uncomfortable. Reach out to a mentor to help you navigate and turn a potential disaster into a win-win.

Lesson 6 of 11:
You can be sure you are building a great culture when your team members’ refer their most talented friends to join you. Not only will this help you source incredible talent, but the camaraderie will also have enormous positive effects.

Lesson 7 of 11:
Even a superstar will hit a roadblock. Ill health, family problems, money challenges, questions of purpose affect everyone. Give them space to recover during such times. Use it as an opportunity for others to pitch in, trying out a promising talent, and working closely with clients.

Lesson 8 of 11:
Your best “growth” tool is Feedback – from teams, leaders, peers, mentors, industry experts. You don’t need surveys; one-one conversations work just as well. The best leaders are masters at getting Feedback and acting on them.

Lesson 9 of 11:
Encourage team members to share what they admire in each other. People love hearing positive Feedback. And the person sharing the Feedback is learning a crucial skill – of becoming a “greatness” detective.

Lesson 10 of 11:
The best gift you can give your team is space. Space to work the way they prefer. Freedom to make mistakes and contribute to things outside their scope. They’ll astound you with outcomes, creativity, and initiative every single time.

Lesson 11 of 11:
And finally, leading a team teaches you a lot about yourself. You understand how you react in challenging situations, what motivates you, and importantly what scares you. Used right, leadership can be one of the best tools for self-awareness and growth.


  1. 21 years essenced into 11 key points – Only you can do this Subra πŸ™‚
    Great points and ones that have and will stand the tests of time and in this new age of continuous ‘distractions’ of technology, these are key and important guideposts.
    Thank you for sharing Subra.

  2. Liked the lessons, Subra ! Able to relate with most of them.
    Lesson 9 also means you don’t have to like or personally align with everything in a team member in order to work together.
    Lesson 10 is a gem !!

  3. Thanks a lot Subra. Lovely Eleven lessons..simply summed up great to build and grow performing teams. Really greatly put and you’ve been the greatest source of inspiration to build such teams that fosters great culture and camaraderie. Hats off Subra

  4. Loved the 11 lessons and thank you for sharing Subra. Lesson 1 and Lesson 11 are my favorites. Can’t wait to read next weeks news letter. Regards, Gopal.

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