Having experience as a mountain guide helped me understand how teams work in various situations. Some of the behaviours apply to the professional world as well.
Imagine you wake up on a sunny morning in the tent piched on the mountain pass. The first task for the group, after crawling out of their sleeping bags: prepare something to eat.
You may count on some people being very helpful (or hungry ;)) and eager to spread jam on slices of bread, but most of your team is probably yawning or hesitating what to do.
What you need to do is:
- Start working – cutting the bread, vegetables, etc.
- Encourage others to join (inviting by name works best)
- Withdraw after short time, let someone else cut the next cucumber.
The most important (and the hardest) part is 3. It is easy to get involved into something, but there are probably more important things waiting for you (campfire, water supplies, plans for the day, oh, lots of stuff). If you do not start leaving work for others you will quickly end up doing more you can manage.
I have encountered it over and over again – some people do not pack knives. They are generally willing to help, but they do not have a crucial tool. I ended up bringing spare ones on each trip :evil:.
Your responsibility as a leader is to start, show an example and ensure people have everything they need to acomplish the job. After that do yourself (and your team – in the long term) a favor by taking a step back.