I’m on the board of several non-profits and volunteer professional associations.  Recently, I undertook a project with another member in one of these groups.  Working on this project felt like molasses flowing uphill in winter.

Long story short, it turned out that I was assuming the other member was the ‘leader’ and she was assuming I was the ‘leader’ of this project.  Both of us based this on good reasons, but neither of us had checked it out with the other person.  It had a subtly undermining effect on the project, especially around scheduling, until we had an “aha” moment and sorted it out.

In at least one other professional situation some years ago I had the opposite experience.  I had the leader title, but someone else took the lead.  It was stressful and felt like a stealthy turf battle.

In each of these experiences, assumptions about team roles and how others should be behaving created unmet expectations and disappointment.

So how do you handle situations like this?

Ideally, every team has an upfront discussion where roles are discussed and duties are assigned.  In the first instance I described, we each took on duties, but never discussed our vision for our roles.  You don’t know what you don’t know!

In the second situation from my past, I should’ve confronted the situation more directly with the team, but at that time didn’t have the confidence to do so.

Sometimes, even with good intentions, teams get off-track because of their unspoken assumptions.

Next week I’ll explore how setting a team vision for any group you belong to can create a ‘road map’ that you can refer to, if things get off-course.

Best wishes,


P.S. And if you want to explore how you can become a more effective team leader or member, please contact me for a complimentary consultation.  Everyone leaves with at least one customized action step they can put into practice right away.

P.P.S. Later today I’ll be presenting “Authentic Living/Authentic Leadership” at the Minnesota ASQ Professional Development Summit.  If you’re interested in learning more, please go to: http://www.mnasq.org/summit/programs.html