I work with a couple of different teams in different contexts. One of the teams of young people I work with a tenure of a year. We’ve just commenced training for this year’s team and I’ve got a lesson I think would be beneficial to leaders that lead with similar teams or on a project basis. It has to do with what I’d like to call ‘the remnant’. These are young people that have either served on the team in the most recent tenure or at some point in the past. The team members from the previous tenures often return the following year to serve as leaders on the new teams.
This is why I think ‘the remnant’ is important:
- The remnant will constitute a solid foundation for the team serving in the new tenure. They can become the framework on which the new team can be established. When you have people that have walked the journey, it helps give security to the new team members. Just the presence of a remnant will give the team just being instated better confidence than if they were on their own. Sometimes confidence is the only thing separating achievement and failure. Ensure that you build a fair level of confidence in your team members; include a remnant in the mix.
- As a “senior leader”(for lack of better terminology) or one ultimately responsible for the teams, it lightens the load. The remnant have already walked a journey with me and thus already have a better understanding of me and the way I do things. Thus they can help interpret cues from the senior leader for the new team members. It can be somewhat taxing and cumbersome to start off every tenure by first getting the new team members to understand me as the ‘senior leader’. The remnant help act “mediators” between myself and the new team members. They act as “buffers” for me by explaining things about me and my leadership style to the new team members based on the first encounter with me.
- The starting point of any new team must be training. It is during the time you crystallize the teams mandate, communicate values and affirm their abilities to fulfill all this (assuming they’re on your team because you believe they can deliver). Post training i.e. the “execution phase” there are some unique instances that training does not always cover. Some things will only arise post training. I realized that there are things that the remnant can explain based on their experience, which may be more equipping than standard training. The fact that there is someone who can attest to having “walked the road” will help challenge the “it’s impossible syndrome”. It will be expedient for the senior leader to already have the remnant talk about the possibility before the team members start leaning to toward “it’s impossible”. This helps make goals or the vision being seen and accepted as possible. Thus, there are numerous mentors for the new team members, reducing load on the senior leader.
- By virtue of experience the remnant can take on more responsibilities in both training and leading the new team members, lightening the load. This also creates opportunity for the new team members to better understand what is being communicated to them in terms of the mandate, values and vision of the team, as they may speak a language that the new team members may better understand than that of the senior leader.
- Having the remnant means an opportunity to develop more leaders. Leaders do not merely exist to lead ‘followers’ but to multiply competent leaders. Having a remnant, (who were only team members in the previous tenure) now means senior leaders should have a good pool of developing other leaders, as they’ve had experience as followers. What better place to recruit leaders or students of leaders than from those you have embraced following in an exemplary manner!
The responsibility rests on the senior leaders or leadership to engage with the remnant and see that they are good stewards of the experience they would’ve acquired in the previous tenure. Whether it is a team with a stipulated tenure or you’re the senior leader on projects, it can prove worthwhile for you to employ a remnant.