Facilitate That

Getting started on a new team is always a unique experience, and it's particularly so if you're in a leadership position. My group at MIT is preparing for a deployment of our system as part of a research collaboration with the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute, and as the nominal systems engineer I'm supposed to help ensure that our software works well as a unit.

Being a research group we don't have a lot of formal structure. Whatever leadership role a student occupies is purely a function of their expertise and charisma, so it requires a bit more finesse and leadership by example than I've been used to in my other leadership positions - in Civil Air Patrol and at Google, I had a bit more delegated authority which made it easier to execute on whatever my team was supposed to be doing.

On the other hand, having to build consensus around your goals and get the entire team on board is generally a good thing, and something one should do even if it's not a prerequisite to getting things done. I've been diving more into the people side of things in this new role than I expected, and it's both fun and exhausting. I'm discovering that my coaching and facilitation skills, while better than they were a few years ago, still have a ways to go - there's always something new to learn.