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I'm just doing a course in communication where we code a server and write design documents. Most of the server is already coded, and from the information given in the assignment we just try to fill in the blanks. I'm not really the team leader, but my two teammates are very passive.

We often interpret the assignment differently, and I don't understand their thinking very well which frustrates everyone. I try to explain to them my point of view and acknowledge theirs, but after awhile they just give in to me. I want them to understand me, not give in. Teammate A seems to look defeated after we argue, and he gets emotional when frustrated. Should I be more gentle?

We all code together. Sometimes I get lost while coding and after a few hours I have no idea what my teammates have done. I ask them what they are doing from time to time but I don't want to be too controlling.

Also I'm confused as to which parts should be mine and which parts are my teammates. If a functionality that they need to code ends up having to use my function and change my function a bit, do I have to code the part that will be in my function?

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closed as off topic by Mark Trapp Jan 30 '12 at 11:13

Questions on Programmers Stack Exchange are expected to relate to software development within the scope defined by the community. Consider editing the question or leaving comments for improvement if you believe the question can be reworded to fit within the scope. Read more about reopening questions here.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

For some good tips on team-leadership see also programmers.stackexchange.com/questions/27164/… and the articles it links to (in the right sidebar) –  PersonalNexus Jan 30 '12 at 5:41
Hi lost, welcome to Programmers! General workplace advice questions like this are off-topic here: you may be interested in the forthcoming Professional Matters site proposal, which aims to fill that niche. –  user8 Jan 30 '12 at 11:14
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2 Answers

What is implied from your situation is that you are all at peer level. Probably you happened to be thier leader not because of your age/experience seniority but rather because of your initiative and because people do trust you.

(Now, if i am right you are a good leader in the making!)

Now to your are not quite in a good position on what is called leverage.

In situations like this, only things that works is when decisions are taken in a true democratic way. Here are some suggestions i will give you:

  1. Alway be a co-ordinator than a leader. Invite all in meetings, put agenda only in the form questions (rather than this looks like a workable solution, do you agree?) and force people to say what are the probably best answer and see that team picks up answer from all people. If you are all prepared with all answers - you will see participation drops rapidly.

  2. Once you have done this, ask - who will do this. Avoid over booking yourself (even though you are mentally prepared that you will slog out if no one will work on this).

  3. Co-ordinate status with all points discussed last time and ask - so who all finished their work? Update this based on

  4. Gently raise the concern and get overall agreement that everyone's work will be peer-reviewed.

This all sounds obvious - so what's the point.

The point is, telling people that look he didn't finish work incurs heavy negativity even if you are right. where as if people have accepted responsibility in an open-ended meetings, they will be ashamed to say - guys i didn't move my a## on this yet! Once, twice, and thrice you will see that fellow wants to at least doesn't want to look like a defaulter to avoid this.

I have seen this a common phenomenon with many good (software) engineers they feel frustrated and many a times helpless when buggers don't respect their work. My only message is don't fear and don't drop rational. Just by being firm and head-on (but avoid all emotions) you can actually make people work. Just trust yourself.

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For a peer-based approach regarding task allocation and decision making, I agree with @Dipan Mehta's approach.

For your interpersonal communications, you should definitely look at a personality model eg DISC or Myers Briggs (DISC is my personal preference, it's very easy to learn and then to use on other people even when they haven't completed the quiz).

Why? Try completing a quiz:

  • To learn about your own style
  • You can then learn how you might be perceived by others
  • And critically - what you can do to tune your language/tone to get the most from your conversations with them.
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