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Ask HN: Advice for an introverted new team lead?
1 point by bloopernova 8 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 3 comments
Hello HN,

It's that old question again, but this time it comes from maybe a slightly different place.

I'm a fairly introverted person. I've been a sysadmin for over 20 years, and always been happy to work from the back office up to my elbows in terminals and code. I've not sought out the spotlight, pushed to lead, nor tried to tell others what to do. I've always thought of that as something I simply couldn't do.

Recently I've been put forward for a team lead role, managing just a handful of devops positions. I've been highly praised for a whole slew of stuff, and now I'm a team lead, and way way way out of my comfort zone. If I am honest with myself, I am terrified of all the things that may go wrong.

HN, I need your advice on how to be an introverted team lead. Those of you with a similar outlook on life, how did you cope? How did you manage all the meetings, 1 to 1s, vendor calls, and more? Were there any books that helped you, and were there any that you would avoid like the plague?

Any advice will be deeply appreciated.

I find that checklists, written plans and procedures, etc. can be a good way for the introverted to substitute for chatty, high-contact direction (and they are good for other reasons anyway). When you do a 1:1, having a previously agreed on list of objectives for that person (quarterly goals or whatever) that you can review, allows that list to do some of the talking for you (in some cases, it will deliver some of the bad news for you, i.e. "you did not accomplish this").

Similarly with vendor calls and other meetings, a published agenda beforehand helps to keep things focused and moving, and you don't have to do as much of the "let's talk about this now" direction of the conversation.

Also, if you have a more extroverted direct report, having them take minutes for the meeting helps to push some of the talking (e.g. review at the end of the meeting for who signed up to do what) onto someone else, in a way that doesn't undercut your authority. Also, if a detailed agenda has been published by you (e.g. by email) prior to the meeting, then you can even have a second run the meeting to a certain degree, while you focus on answering high-level technical questions that require your expertise. This still makes it clear that you are setting the agenda, but puts some of the talking onto someone who is happier to do that (and provides him/her with an opportunity for career growth).

Of course, not all of these are allowed or encouraged at a given organization or with a given customer, but I'm just throwing them out there as a possibility to consider.

These are all great ideas, I'm really grateful to you for replying. Thank you!

Old dogs can learn new tricks. Take a public speaking class at the community college. Better yet, join Toast Masters.

These sorts of activities allow you to exercise skills outside of your work.

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