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IRL Leadership Classes and TF2
1
#1
0 Frags +

I posted this here in the regular TF2 forum due to the relationship with TF2 generally speaking.

So, 8 months ago I was enrolled through my workplace in a "leadership development" course which I graduated this Tuesday. The goal of the course was to foster relationships within my region (11 counties) and to foster "leadership characteristics" and other fluff like that, along with a service project.

As the course progressed I came to realize very quickly that most of what the course was teaching me, I had already been forced to learn through my time as a team leader in Tf2. For the briefest history possible I was a maincaller/team leader ~2010-2013 or so, and then I started to hand that role gradually over to other players as the meta strongly shifted away form having medics call in that way. But most of the day-to-day operation of the team fell on me until I joined Dheroes, and then I would periodically take the mantle back up. I thought perhaps ya'll would be interested in a few basic things that were discussed heavily in the course which directly apply to being an effective leader when it comes to TF2, or really anything. I got a good laugh out of the course because a hat based video game had already taught me most of what the course had to offer for free.

Here are some highlights:

- Being "present" and avoiding auto-pilot when you talk to people. I can't underscore enough how important it was to really value the time you spend with your teammates when you play and practice (if the objective is to be really good). There were lots of situations where people felt stepped on or abused because I wasn't paying attention to them, especially early on.

- Realizing that you have a group of diverse people all of whom have a different core objective - even when that objective looks the same as yours. "Winning" is usually the objective of a team, but what winning actually looks like can differ drastically from player to player and if you allow yourself to ignore that you're a bad leader.

- Being an example. I got Kermit to scrim I think in part because all of us showed up diligently. He didn't even really scrim before LAN.

- Consistent temperament so that your subordinates can "read you". Everybody has had that. You show up for scrims and somebody is just randomly in a crappy mood. It messes everything up. I honestly sucked at this too lots of time.

- Fairness and impartiality with rules. My own teams were night and day from Dheroes where I had never clearly set out what sorts of behaviors could lead to a player being cut or even what we looked for in other players, whereas all of that was explicitly laid out on Dheroes, and the culture of that particular team was very clearly outlined. Later on we would have the team of death in IM where I cut players because the universe literally tried to kill them, but that was a firm rule nonetheless.

- To seek counsel when you deal with a person's expertise. This is the #1 biggest takeaway I learned in tf2 and unfortunately killed several teams I played on because I didn't learn the lesson until too late. If you tell your scout or Rikachu you think they should do x, and they protest, *you* don't know better than they do, and if you insist that you do it's going to take them out of the game.

- To strive to allow your subordinates to express their individuality so long as the final product isn't affected. Yeah, your idiot roamer wanting to go spy at random is annoying, but you have to let him do it every now and again because its part of fostering trust and goodwill. But if they do random stupid stuff that is too much the other 5 people on the team suffer.

- Conduct and performance expectations should be issued in advance. This is a huge one for TF2. Discussing as a team what the objective of the team is in advance and making sure all 6 people on the team know what it is that the "leader" expects. Serious team? Scrims? etc etc.

- Praise accomplishments. I honestly really sucked at this at first too. When you're constantly looking for ways to improve you can get stuck in looking *only* for what your team is doing incorrectly. I learned right away from our young roamer Iarerobot that if I praised his good plays he always came back and played far better after.

- Prove that you can do. As a medic I learned really quickly that I would be a lot more respected by my teammates if I showed that I was attempting to git gud at soldier, demo, or scout and MGE'd with them or did some other activity in the same vein so as to show that I wasn't just chillin' waiting to follow them with a heal beam.

So there you have it. 8 months of leadership courses and how the lessons they taught us were all taught to me earlier by TF2. Have you found similar things to be true for yourself in that this crazy hat game taught you valuable real world skills that people pay to learn?

I posted this here in the regular TF2 forum due to the relationship with TF2 generally speaking.

So, 8 months ago I was enrolled through my workplace in a "leadership development" course which I graduated this Tuesday. The goal of the course was to foster relationships within my region (11 counties) and to foster "leadership characteristics" and other fluff like that, along with a service project.

As the course progressed I came to realize very quickly that most of what the course was teaching me, I had already been forced to learn through my time as a team leader in Tf2. For the briefest history possible I was a maincaller/team leader ~2010-2013 or so, and then I started to hand that role gradually over to other players as the meta strongly shifted away form having medics call in that way. But most of the day-to-day operation of the team fell on me until I joined Dheroes, and then I would periodically take the mantle back up. I thought perhaps ya'll would be interested in a few basic things that were discussed heavily in the course which directly apply to being an effective leader when it comes to TF2, or really anything. I got a good laugh out of the course because a hat based video game had already taught me most of what the course had to offer for free.

Here are some highlights:

- Being "present" and avoiding auto-pilot when you talk to people. I can't underscore enough how important it was to really value the time you spend with your teammates when you play and practice (if the objective is to be really good). There were lots of situations where people felt stepped on or abused because I wasn't paying attention to them, especially early on.

- Realizing that you have a group of diverse people all of whom have a different core objective - even when that objective looks the same as yours. "Winning" is usually the objective of a team, but what winning actually looks like can differ drastically from player to player and if you allow yourself to ignore that you're a bad leader.

- Being an example. I got Kermit to scrim I think in part because all of us showed up diligently. He didn't even really scrim before LAN.

- Consistent temperament so that your subordinates can "read you". Everybody has had that. You show up for scrims and somebody is just randomly in a crappy mood. It messes everything up. I honestly sucked at this too lots of time.

- Fairness and impartiality with rules. My own teams were night and day from Dheroes where I had never clearly set out what sorts of behaviors could lead to a player being cut or even what we looked for in other players, whereas all of that was explicitly laid out on Dheroes, and the culture of that particular team was very clearly outlined. Later on we would have the team of death in IM where I cut players because the universe literally tried to kill them, but that was a firm rule nonetheless.

- To seek counsel when you deal with a person's expertise. This is the #1 biggest takeaway I learned in tf2 and unfortunately killed several teams I played on because I didn't learn the lesson until too late. If you tell your scout or Rikachu you think they should do x, and they protest, *you* don't know better than they do, and if you insist that you do it's going to take them out of the game.

- To strive to allow your subordinates to express their individuality so long as the final product isn't affected. Yeah, your idiot roamer wanting to go spy at random is annoying, but you have to let him do it every now and again because its part of fostering trust and goodwill. But if they do random stupid stuff that is too much the other 5 people on the team suffer.

- Conduct and performance expectations should be issued in advance. This is a huge one for TF2. Discussing as a team what the objective of the team is in advance and making sure all 6 people on the team know what it is that the "leader" expects. Serious team? Scrims? etc etc.

- Praise accomplishments. I honestly really sucked at this at first too. When you're constantly looking for ways to improve you can get stuck in looking *only* for what your team is doing incorrectly. I learned right away from our young roamer Iarerobot that if I praised his good plays he always came back and played far better after.

- Prove that you can do. As a medic I learned really quickly that I would be a lot more respected by my teammates if I showed that I was attempting to git gud at soldier, demo, or scout and MGE'd with them or did some other activity in the same vein so as to show that I wasn't just chillin' waiting to follow them with a heal beam.

So there you have it. 8 months of leadership courses and how the lessons they taught us were all taught to me earlier by TF2. Have you found similar things to be true for yourself in that this crazy hat game taught you valuable real world skills that people pay to learn?
2
#2
24 Frags +

Didn't expect to get namedropped like this 4 years later lmao
good read man and I agree with every point.

- Consistent temperament so that your subordinates can "read you". Everybody has had that. You show up for scrims and somebody is just randomly in a crappy mood. It messes everything up. I honestly sucked at this too lots of time.

One point that I really struggled with throughout every season I've played and probably one of the most important.

Didn't expect to get namedropped like this 4 years later lmao
good read man and I agree with every point.
[quote] - Consistent temperament so that your subordinates can "read you". Everybody has had that. You show up for scrims and somebody is just randomly in a crappy mood. It messes everything up. I honestly sucked at this too lots of time. [/quote]
One point that I really struggled with throughout every season I've played and probably one of the most important.
3
#3
8 Frags +

I kind of learned this in reverse. All the stuff I learned in my early jobs and in college about leadership and teaching I regularly tried to put into practice when I was running teams. I guess it speaks to how successful I was at that considering that I'm no longer teaching and definitely not leading any teams nowadays, but it was kind of crazy how applicable team leading skills are to the real world.

There's a pretty long running joke about listing being a WoW guild leader on a resume, but honestly getting 5 literal children to show up and be present and active 4-5 nights a week genuinely does build skills that are 100% relevant to the real world.

so if you've ever run a team and are worried about becoming an adult and getting a job, don't worry. it's harder to get people together for scrims than it is to get people together for projects.

I kind of learned this in reverse. All the stuff I learned in my early jobs and in college about leadership and teaching I regularly tried to put into practice when I was running teams. I guess it speaks to how successful I was at that considering that I'm no longer teaching and definitely not leading any teams nowadays, but it was kind of crazy how applicable team leading skills are to the real world.

There's a pretty long running joke about listing being a WoW guild leader on a resume, but honestly getting 5 literal children to show up and be present and active 4-5 nights a week genuinely does build skills that are 100% relevant to the real world.

so if you've ever run a team and are worried about becoming an adult and getting a job, don't worry. it's harder to get people together for scrims than it is to get people together for projects.
4
#4
11 Frags +

Super interesting read thanks for posting Marxist. I totally agree on must of the points, and I'd say for sure leading a team or even just being a good teammate is definitely applicable to the real world. I think biggest game changer in terms of tf2 stuff for me at least was the praising accomplishments thing, because it can literally transform a toxic mumble atmosphere almost instantly and help hype up your teammates and get them all in the zone as well. Insisting that you know better than your teammates and bringing up arguments mid game 100% takes them out of the present moment and makes people play worse for sure.

I noticed a similar thing when learning about mindfulness, I found that a lot of the skills that are required to be a good competitor and receptive teammate go hand in hand with that stuff. Focusing on the game during a match and staying present no matter what crazy stuff happens and just letting it go is totally in the same vein as being present and letting go of your thoughts/emotions. Getting out of autopilot and focusing for long periods of time seems to me to be flexing the same sort of muscle as practicing mindfulness works on.

There are definitely a lot of shared skills, and I've even found that if I meditate for 45 minutes before scrims I actually play a lot better and am completely present and don't get tilted by stuff I would usually be frustrated by. Granted, it's also obviously important to play the game and practice mechanics and be warned up but honestly pugs can be so frustrating that it can just bring me into scrims in a horrible mood which is never something you want. I don't think people appreciate the significance of the mental game when talking about tf2, cause there's literally no way you're going to have any crazy comebacks or end of match clutches unless you're completely present and you aren't outcome dependent thinking about the possibility of losing and missing playoffs (I remember thinking this in S27 with velocity, I was ready to leave the sevrer after dropping uber and being pushed back to our own last and going down 4-0 but then I focused up and let go and we ended up miraculously coming back and winning). Patience is another thing that I actually found I had cultivated through playing tf2 (and medic in specific), being patient and waiting for the correct opportunity to arise and not pushing it and forcing something out of impatience is super important ofc.

Super interesting read thanks for posting Marxist. I totally agree on must of the points, and I'd say for sure leading a team or even just being a good teammate is definitely applicable to the real world. I think biggest game changer in terms of tf2 stuff for me at least was the praising accomplishments thing, because it can literally transform a toxic mumble atmosphere almost instantly and help hype up your teammates and get them all in the zone as well. Insisting that you know better than your teammates and bringing up arguments mid game 100% takes them out of the present moment and makes people play worse for sure.

I noticed a similar thing when learning about mindfulness, I found that a lot of the skills that are required to be a good competitor and receptive teammate go hand in hand with that stuff. Focusing on the game during a match and staying present no matter what crazy stuff happens and just letting it go is totally in the same vein as being present and letting go of your thoughts/emotions. Getting out of autopilot and focusing for long periods of time seems to me to be flexing the same sort of muscle as practicing mindfulness works on.

There are definitely a lot of shared skills, and I've even found that if I meditate for 45 minutes before scrims I actually play a lot better and am completely present and don't get tilted by stuff I would usually be frustrated by. Granted, it's also obviously important to play the game and practice mechanics and be warned up but honestly pugs can be so frustrating that it can just bring me into scrims in a horrible mood which is never something you want. I don't think people appreciate the significance of the mental game when talking about tf2, cause there's literally no way you're going to have any crazy comebacks or end of match clutches unless you're completely present and you aren't outcome dependent thinking about the possibility of losing and missing playoffs (I remember thinking this in S27 with velocity, I was ready to leave the sevrer after dropping uber and being pushed back to our own last and going down 4-0 but then I focused up and let go and we ended up miraculously coming back and winning). Patience is another thing that I actually found I had cultivated through playing tf2 (and medic in specific), being patient and waiting for the correct opportunity to arise and not pushing it and forcing something out of impatience is super important ofc.
5
#5
1 Frags +

Like others I agree with everything. Being a leader requires some fortitude, because even when you do follow those principles, you still do not have any way of forcing your teammates to invest themselves for the team. Sure you might lay down the rules clearly, but you can't always afford to cut those who don't behave, simply because finding better replacements is very hard or impossible.

I especially struggled at responsabilizing people in game. When maincalling I would tell "sac john and michael at 9:40", and then at 9:35 nothing would have happened. Without bashing hard I would then remind them in the next downtime "we said we sacked john and michael at 9:40 and nothing happened", but this wouldnt be followed by any more involvment the next time we needed to make the same play, even with john and michael (seemingly) agreeing.

And what do you do when the team's performance does not match the expectations? Discuss who to cut?

Like others I agree with everything. Being a leader requires some fortitude, because even when you do follow those principles, you still do not have any way of forcing your teammates to invest themselves for the team. Sure you might lay down the rules clearly, but you can't always afford to cut those who don't behave, simply because finding better replacements is very hard or impossible.

I especially struggled at responsabilizing people in game. When maincalling I would tell "sac john and michael at 9:40", and then at 9:35 nothing would have happened. Without bashing hard I would then remind them in the next downtime "we said we sacked john and michael at 9:40 and nothing happened", but this wouldnt be followed by any more involvment the next time we needed to make the same play, even with john and michael (seemingly) agreeing.

And what do you do when the team's performance does not match the expectations? Discuss who to cut?
6
#6
17 Frags +

One incredibly useful skill you'll develop playing TF2 is the ability to work with strangers.

You'll have Pug.na's or Centers where you'll be at least acquainted some people, and others where you are playing with 5 total strangers, and you have to immediately work as a team without knowing any strengths / weaknesses of your teammates.

Ironically, I always had a hatred for organizing scrims and scheduling matches and never wanted to take a leadership role and do it. Now I work as a Project Manager. Oops.

One incredibly useful skill you'll develop playing TF2 is the ability to work with strangers.

You'll have Pug.na's or Centers where you'll be at least acquainted some people, and others where you are playing with 5 total strangers, and you have to immediately work as a team without knowing any strengths / weaknesses of your teammates.

Ironically, I always had a hatred for organizing scrims and scheduling matches and never wanted to take a leadership role and do it. Now I work as a Project Manager. Oops.
7
#7
0 Frags +

It's easier at the workplace though, people are contracted for a job and must do it if they want to keep it. "Forcing" someone half a continent away to show up on time on their own free time, or do thing X, for free, is a bit harder.

It's easier at the workplace though, people are contracted for a job and must do it if they want to keep it. "Forcing" someone half a continent away to show up on time on their own free time, or do thing X, for free, is a bit harder.
8
#8
1 Frags +

I've been reading this book called Extreme Ownership by Jocko Willink. One of the biggest things that is echoed over and over in his book is that there is no "bad teams" but rather bad leadership. If you enforce a culture of owning mistakes, highlighting what you did right and what you can improve on, your team will continue to improve. When it comes to standards, its not what you preach but what you tolerate.

One of my biggest problems as a leader is that I get defensive when my teammates seek counsel to try and fix problems with the team. Every team that I've done this with had died, which wasn't a coincidence. As a leader you must be prepared to BE LEAD AND TAKE OWNERSHIP OF YOUR MISTAKES. I've learned time and again that if you DO NOT employ decentralized command over your team, listen to advice, be counseled, that your team is dead in the water.

Obviously some people are more prepared then others to take on leadership roles, but it is never to late to learn these lessons even as someone who isn't in a leadership position. One day your team leader could go missing and you have to take charge. You must be prepared to LEAD, LISTEN, and LEARN. If you fail, talk about what you did wrong and what you are going to do to correct problems. OWN EVERYTHING.

I've been reading this book called Extreme Ownership by Jocko Willink. One of the biggest things that is echoed over and over in his book is that there is no "bad teams" but rather bad leadership. If you enforce a culture of owning mistakes, highlighting what you did right and what you can improve on, your team will continue to improve. When it comes to standards, its not what you preach but what you tolerate.

One of my biggest problems as a leader is that I get defensive when my teammates seek counsel to try and fix problems with the team. Every team that I've done this with had died, which wasn't a coincidence. As a leader you must be prepared to BE LEAD AND TAKE OWNERSHIP OF YOUR MISTAKES. I've learned time and again that if you DO NOT employ decentralized command over your team, listen to advice, be counseled, that your team is dead in the water.

Obviously some people are more prepared then others to take on leadership roles, but it is never to late to learn these lessons even as someone who isn't in a leadership position. One day your team leader could go missing and you have to take charge. You must be prepared to LEAD, LISTEN, and LEARN. If you fail, talk about what you did wrong and what you are going to do to correct problems. OWN EVERYTHING.
9
#9
6 Frags +
TwiggyIt's easier at the workplace though, people are contracted for a job and must do it if they want to keep it. "Forcing" someone half a continent away to show up on time on their own free time, or do thing X, for free, is a bit harder.

it is absolutely easier to convince people to show up at night and play video games than it is to get them to put in real effort at work

[quote=Twiggy]It's easier at the workplace though, people are contracted for a job and must do it if they want to keep it. "Forcing" someone half a continent away to show up on time on their own free time, or do thing X, for free, is a bit harder.[/quote]

it is absolutely easier to convince people to show up at night and play video games than it is to get them to put in real effort at work
10
#10
0 Frags +

Good stuff Marxist. As a long-time team leader I agree these are all super important and I like to think I've constantly improved my leadership within these lines. Something I really never did until late was focus on being "productive" in scrims. By that I mean even if I knew the Mumble atmosphere was down I'd keep scrimming because "really important match later this week" when it would much more beneficial to simply call it for the night / take a break. Also reminding teammates that scrims are for learning, improving, and trying new shit as opposed to straight winning. That way we can go do unorthodox shit like sac players while holding our own last and even if we lose the round because of it it doesn't matter. Setting the grounds with your teammates before the season starts is key no matter what division you play in or what goals you all have in mind. The more leaders and teams that can be on the same page with this kind of stuff, the better this commumity will be.

Good stuff Marxist. As a long-time team leader I agree these are all super important and I like to think I've constantly improved my leadership within these lines. Something I really never did until late was focus on being "productive" in scrims. By that I mean even if I knew the Mumble atmosphere was down I'd keep scrimming because "really important match later this week" when it would much more beneficial to simply call it for the night / take a break. Also reminding teammates that scrims are for learning, improving, and trying new shit as opposed to straight winning. That way we can go do unorthodox shit like sac players while holding our own last and even if we lose the round because of it it doesn't matter. Setting the grounds with your teammates before the season starts is key no matter what division you play in or what goals you all have in mind. The more leaders and teams that can be on the same page with this kind of stuff, the better this commumity will be.
11
#11
1 Frags +
owlTwiggyIt's easier at the workplace though, people are contracted for a job and must do it if they want to keep it. "Forcing" someone half a continent away to show up on time on their own free time, or do thing X, for free, is a bit harder.
it is absolutely easier to convince people to show up at night and play video games than it is to get them to put in real effort at work

Tell me about your story.
I work as a developer, where the trend is this agile development methodology. Besides other things, it involves daily reports where you must tell what you've done yesterday and what you'll do today, and you work on small tasks which length has been estimated beforehand. So not completing the tasks on time, or getting exposed telling bullshit excused to justify not working results in a lot of pressure and scrutiny on you. That's the lever that keeps me working, and I don't see any equivalent for that for hobbies (and that's good).

Maybe teammates share most of your team's goal but aren't as keen as you to absolutely show up on time, or devote time to review their demos, or whatever else. What are you gonna do then? If my employer cuts me, he has easy access to other developers. If you cut a player it's not as easy to find a replacement who agrees on your team's goals and rules.

In my own experience, I had enough trouble finding similar players in terms of dm and gamesense to assemble a balanced roster where nobody would feel like he's carrying a bunch of idiots to not really have much authority to set team grounds like "watch your demos" or "always be there on time".

[quote=owl][quote=Twiggy]It's easier at the workplace though, people are contracted for a job and must do it if they want to keep it. "Forcing" someone half a continent away to show up on time on their own free time, or do thing X, for free, is a bit harder.[/quote]

it is absolutely easier to convince people to show up at night and play video games than it is to get them to put in real effort at work[/quote]
Tell me about your story.
I work as a developer, where the trend is this agile development methodology. Besides other things, it involves daily reports where you must tell what you've done yesterday and what you'll do today, and you work on small tasks which length has been estimated beforehand. So not completing the tasks on time, or getting exposed telling bullshit excused to justify not working results in a lot of pressure and scrutiny on you. That's the lever that keeps me working, and I don't see any equivalent for that for hobbies (and that's good).

Maybe teammates share most of your team's goal but aren't as keen as you to absolutely show up on time, or devote time to review their demos, or whatever else. What are you gonna do then? If my employer cuts me, he has easy access to other developers. If you cut a player it's not as easy to find a replacement who agrees on your team's goals and rules.

In my own experience, I had enough trouble finding similar players in terms of dm and gamesense to assemble a balanced roster where nobody would feel like he's carrying a bunch of idiots to not really have much authority to set team grounds like "watch your demos" or "always be there on time".
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