3 Practical Tips For Better Leadership

Be fair. I believe every game producer and team leader out there should be fair towards every team member. This means that everybody is treated the same way. If you let some people behave the way the want, you need to give this privilege to everybody in the team. If one guy can be late from meetings, then everybody can be late from meetings. If nobody is allowed to be late – that means nobody. If you require lots of work from team members, be sure that you don’t require more than you are willing to do. Being fair includes you and everybody else.

Show leadership using stick and carrot. Even though I really haven’t met one, I’ve heard that there are bosses that are concentrating on the stick part, and forgetting carrot: they only “punish” and never reward. Then there might be leaders who use only carrot – rewards – and never use any ways to punish people. They say that “stick is demotivating” or say that “using carrot is the best way to act”.

While I agree that rewards are the things that motivate, but that doesn’t mean there wouldn’t be consequences for critical parts in the project. For example, if some team member constantly mocks everybody else and disagrees with everything (just for sake of disagreeing) I would seriously consider dropping that team member out. Naturally every situation must be acted fairly, take into account what’s important and what damage this team member does and discuss things openly with him before taking any action – but leaving somebody out is sometimes the right thing to do.

Other forms of “punishment” could be that “those who are late from meetings buy donuts to whole team”. If some guy has been late several times, you might be surprised how miracleously there’s no more reasons like “traffic jams”, “alarm clock didn’t work” or “had to take children to school” – even the “laziest” guys get to meetings on time when they know they will get consequences. And it’s extremely important to be consistent with this: if you put the late-donut-policy in action, you must be 100% sure that this policy is followed – it’s your job to make that happen, every time.

Say what you think, honestly and intelligently. It’s good to express your thoughts and say what you really think. Some people go into extent that they bash anything that comes to their mouth and validate their actions by saying “it’s good to say honestly what you think”. I agree that it’s good to say honestly what you think, but there’s no reason to bash others. If somebody has done a poor job, it’s right – and producer’s responsibility – to say that. The way you say it is what matters. If you say “You did a shitty job, fix it” it has a quite different attitude that expressing “Your work has always been great quality, but this time I think this work could need some improvement. Overall the job is well done, but requires some improvement here and here – what do you think?”. I don’t mean that you should say “you’ve always done great job” if the guy really isn’t. There’s no need to lie about the work, but if the guy’s work has good parts you can mention that you like about those, and then you can express what needs improvement.

Being fair, use of rewards and consequences and communicating well are tools that can help you leading your team.

Juuso Hietalahti


  1. Well I’ll prove you wrong and comment then :). Not everyone is a leader by birth, sometimes some are not not even after: classes, lectures, experience in the field of work one does and so on. Good advices are always woth of gold, how you apply them is complitely another thing…and let’s not forget charisma, unless you are working in “faceless” enviroment such as leading via: irc, messenger, e-mail and so forth with the digital means of communicating. Even then the charisma can shine trough though.
    The thing is (IMO), that you can’t simply pack a good leader in a formula of any sort (and duplicate them for the industry ;) ), you either are or not. Naturally education and knowledge is essential, but yet it does not nescessarily make anyone a good leader. There’s always much more to picture than the mere eye meets. ;)

    PS. Nice to hear that you are doing great Roman Budzowski, keep it up! :)

  2. Such an important topic and no comments yet? It really proves that indies are mostly lone rangers. Nowadays I find myself more of a leader than a coder. It often amazes me how I achieve that without any real budget we create such a great games :)

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