4 reasons backed by science and research to help leaders understand the power of small teams

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illustration by Quovantis

Entropy happens. Be it in our universe, or in isolated systems like organizational teams.

And when entropy happens in teams — generally as an outcome of unexamined accelerated growth — it not only impedes progress but creates chaos and confusion. And if left unchecked, leads to huge cracks in a team’s foundation.

There are many strategies to combat entropy. But one of the easiest is to tackle team composition. Scratch that. I meant the team’s size.

Team Size? Wait a minute. Does that mean a team shouldn’t grow?

No, I’m not suggesting that. I’m suggesting being conscious about your team size like a Red-Black tree is conscious of its balance. …

What if it was reversed?

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Is he thinking what I’m thinking? I don’t know, and never will. Photo by Anthony Tori on Unsplash

I was on my terrace reading Reasons to Stay Alive when the booming rhythmic music of the Punjabi Dhol stole my attention.

It was a wedding procession.

If you haven’t been to this part of the world then know Punjabi weddings make celebrations a street affair with their typical reverberating Dhol sequences that go — DhingDhing…LuckLuck…DhingDhing…LuckLuck…, and can pierce anyone’s eardrum, umm…let’s say within a 10-mile radius. Like the whole city should know where’s the party, and who is going to get lucky tonight.

Submerging ourselves in the ecstasy of music to celebrate is so deeply ingrained in our DNA that we never question it. We may question the spectacle of such an occasion, but never the act itself. Or its volume. Happy times are always synonymous with music and dance. …

HiPPO: Highest Income Paid Person’s Opinion.

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I know, I know, real HiPPOs don’t dress like that but that’s where creative freedom comes in, illustrated by Quovantis

If you have Lead, Manager, Director, VP, or any job title which resonates with a leadership position then you might be perceived as a HiPPO. Without you even realizing it.

Getting labeled as a HiPPO could be a noteworthy achievement of your career, but not so much when you want to make decisions harnessing the diversity and collective wisdom of your group.

You see, when you are perceived as a HiPPO, what you say — even a mere harmless suggestion — has the potential to be interpreted as a decision.

It happens because your team thinks you must be good at your job otherwise you wouldn’t be in a leadership position. Or pessimistically, it’s ultimately your neck on the line then why not roll with your decision? …

And help your team members realize their full potential

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The book that helps you develop a coaching habit. Illustration by Quovantis.

Are you overwhelmed by the sheer number of decisions you have to make on your team’s behalf? The decisions which they could have easily made. And the thought, “when would my team start tackling challenges on their own?”, sticks with you like a shadow.

Well, you are not alone. And the sad truth — you are partly responsible for it.

You are in this untenable situation because you either don’t have the luxury of time to let your team solve problems on their own or perhaps, you have an interesting viewpoint on organizational challenges — from strategy to execution — which you have developed after being in unfathomable diverse situations. …

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Photo by Adrian Swancar on Unsplash

It’s easy wanting to be a writer. But it’s stupendously hard to sit through the ordeal of crafting a compelling read. Something so riveting that keeps readers gliding effortlessly from one sentence to another. Something that strikes such an emotional chord that they hypnotically nod their head in agreement while devouring every single word.

To achieve this level of mastery in non-fiction writing is a task of biblical proportions. The writing has to be meaningful and creative and profound. And these very things, especially the one about sounding profound, make writing astonishingly hard.

The need for sounding profound plays devious psychological tricks, you know. You want the readers to walk away learning something new. Or at least learn a new perspective about an old culturally pervasive idea. …

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Photo by 🇨🇭 Claudio Schwarz | @purzlbaum on Unsplash

I don’t have the typical markers of success — didn’t go to an Ivy league school, wasn’t a scholar student, wasn’t the lead singer of a metal slaying rock band, didn’t win any medals in sports because my cylindrical body wasn’t built for it, wasn’t part of a platoon reclaiming a piece of my motherland in a righteous war against tyrannical infiltrators.

Not having any such dazzling stories to introduce myself ties my tongue in a sturdy Bowline knot. One thing I dread in a business setting more than the annual performance appraisal is introducing myself.

You see, I’m a below average person and have had my fair share of failures and successes. I neither want to come across as someone who stretches the fabric of reality with their incredulous humble brags, nor someone who makes it look like they got beamed into this business meeting serendipitously. No wonder I get caught like a deer in headlights in such situations. …

Follow legendary Andy Grove’s advice to understand what success means in your new role

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A few months into their new position, engineering managers start agonizing how they hardly get time to do any technical work. They feel they would become redundant if they don’t start contributing in the technical areas.

I get it, I’ve been there.

I remember the constant assault on my self esteem when I was first promoted to be a manager. Most of the things that I had learned to get to that position were all of a sudden..umm…good-for-nothing. As if all my technical chops had implemented an IDisposable interface overnight. Sigh!

If you’re going through the same phase a) please know that you’re not alone, b) understand what has changed. …

Helpful guidelines to get the most out of praise and criticism.

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A person receiving feedback, illustration done by Quovantis

There are two types of professionals in the world: those who receive feedback well and those who fall behind.

And I’m here to talk about ‘those who fall behind’.

“Snuggling with the feedback, analyzing the feedback, and then embracing the feedback is the highest-leverage skill to upgrade the firmware of your mind. “

Not that you aren’t enough as-is but if you truly want to experience the beauty of growth in life, then you should seek it like love.

It’s then not a surprise that we consider feedback a gift. …

3 easy steps to delegate like a pro

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As a leader you might have faced this problem in the past — your group starts growing and you find yourself overwhelmed with the sheer number of things that need to be tracked.

You hear advice about effective delegating to create more leaders in your group and free up some of your time to do strategic thinking. But somehow with a dark twist of fate, you become more overwhelmed and frustrated as things you delegated start falling apart. The advice that was supposed to help you starts creating more burden.

One of the ways to handle this situation is to do what other managers do — blame teammates for their lack of competence and readiness to handle the delegated tasks. …

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Photo by Colton Duke on Unsplash

“I Am Enough.”

These words flashed on my screen while I was having a 1:1 with a colleague. He switched to the presenter mode in Google Hangouts (hello, remote work) and his wallpaper caught my attention.

I asked his perspective on this phrase while (secretly) judging him for his audacity — Is he delusional? Since when did we, Homo Sapiens, felt even close to being enough? It made me feel as if I was waking up from a deep slumber spanning across millennia. And I was now sitting across a Homo Zenien who was content with who he was.

My mind was racing to find all the profound comebacks on how this phrase was antithetical to our human evolution — the burst of my neural activity could have easily lit up an Indian village. Would we have all the modern comforts or anything that we can’t live without if the cave dwellers would have felt enough? …


Tarun Kohli

Founder & CEO of Quovantis, an avid book reader and a student for life. I write about leadership, UX Design, product development, and 42 things in between.

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