Just a little background: I have 10+ years experience as a developer. I've worked in many different teams with many different technologies (Java, C, .NET, PHP, etc). As a developer I have always tried to show a positive attitude when dealing with complex problems and I really like challenges, that's what keeps me going. When people ask me if this or that complex thing can be done I will always tell them "yes" even if i don't know exactly how. If i cannot do it one way then I will try n-other alternatives.

Based on that, I've found that in almost every team i have worked, most of the teammates run away from complexity or from unknowns. No one really wants to step out of their comfort zone. That's when I always jump in, and let me tell you that i'm not always the hero, sometimes things go wrong but I can't stand people facing challenges and DOING NOTHING. This could be learning a new technology to solve a complex problem, or just solving a complex problem. I have ended up undertaking complex speech-recognition projects, creating CRM's from scratch, migrating legacy code to modern architectures, etc, integrating to PBX's, getting into the guts of Unix servers, terminal emulation, etc.. putting heart and soul, working long hours to get it out of the way. When people see you doing that, they sit back and relax knowing someone else will take care of it.

I have to admit I have an obsessive personality and I become very nervous when people is so passive in front of adversity. How can I deal with this? or even better, how to encourage a team to deal with adversity and embrace challenges? I don't want to be the only one that does what no one else wants or what everyone is afraid of.

  • In a good team you have all kinds of people. You need people willing to do repetitive work and you need the people not scared for change to lead the way for others. Don't look at them as being passive, they enable you to do what you like most.
    – user99561
    Jan 10, 2014 at 14:13

2 Answers 2


Based on that, I've found that in almost every team i have worked, most of the teammates run away from complexity or from unknowns. No one really wants to step out of their comfort zone.

For most people, it's not because of people's comfort zone.

Complexity, and especially unknowns are risk. Risk has a strong correlation to failure. Many companies are terrible at identifying and mitigating risk. Almost all companies are terrible at accepting failure. So in this regard, your peers are doing the smart thing - if the company isn't going to help them deal with risk, and certainly isn't going to understand when those risks cause failure... why should they take on that risk?

As a team leader, you need to help build a culture that accepts failure. Sometimes things don't work out. Sometimes you don't hit the schedule. But innovation necessarily requires taking the risk to do something new, even if it's uncomfortable.

As a team leader, you can help your team take these risks by lessening the burden on them individually. The company is really the one taking the risk by doing these complex/unknown things because they think the innovation is worth the risk. Get others to understand that and assume part of the risk (and effort to minimize the risk) and your team will be much more likely to partake when they see that they're not going to be blamed when the complexity and/or unknown causes issues.

  • 1
    But noting risk you also need to manage it and say when you can't do something not say yes every time.
    – mmmmmm
    Jan 10, 2014 at 14:28
  • Very interesting perspective. It basically boils down to a waterfall of trust. The company wants to innovate and solve complexities and wants to believe that its own people can solve the problem. A team leader wants to believe his team can do it... Jan 10, 2014 at 14:28
  • @AdolfoPerez they also need to trust pou to say it will take too many resources (i.e. money) to be worth it.
    – mmmmmm
    Jan 10, 2014 at 14:29
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    @AdolfoPerez - the team lead doesn't need to believe the team can do it. In fact, they should probably be skeptical that the team can do it so they don't over-promise. The team lead needs to set the team up for success, which means creating an environment where the team isn't scared stiff of failing.
    – Telastyn
    Jan 10, 2014 at 14:35
  • How many times have I heard management or team leaders asking their subordinates: "Can you do that?" Jan 10, 2014 at 15:02

I'm not even as experienced as you and I kind of feel the same way towards passiveness. I tend to think I'm also passive some times, and end up blaming myself for some opportunities that I let pass by, but in many others I see myself acting before people that talk a lot but doesn't lift a finger for the doing part of whatever task is at hand.

My suggestion is for you to find a better place to work. And I mean better for you, that's the most important thing for you, for your career. You have to search for a company with a good and aligned culture with yours. That's one of the many steps on the path to professional success.

  • Wise advise. I thought Google might be a good option, they contacted me but didn't get through the tech interview. Jan 10, 2014 at 14:00
  • You don't have to go that high, believe it, there are smaller companies out there with great work culture.
    – Spidey
    Jan 10, 2014 at 14:19
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    More than complaining about my current job, is reflecting upon a pattern I've seen through my career. I'm actually happy where I am now. Jan 10, 2014 at 14:25

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