Lessons in Leadership: What I Learned from Leading the NCL Player Ambassadors


I’m coming up on the end of my first year leading the team of National Cyber League (NCL) Player Ambassadors. For a long time, I was the Chief (and only) Player Ambassador (PA), but soon realized that I couldn’t keep up with the demands of the NCL Board and the NCL Community. Soon, I had to expand my team.

At first, I brought on JeanaByte, John Mako McGill, and WebWitch. I figured four times more people could do four times more work! Unfortunately, during that first season, I had to train these new PAs, review every piece of content that went out the door. I had more responsibility than ever before!

So we brought on more people and our team quickly grew to ten additional people that I now had to manage. Great, ten times more people, ten times for content that I had to review. Soon, I couldn’t keep up without sacrificing my mental health. I had to make a change. Here are the changes I implemented that have helped me to be an effective leader.

Trust Your Team

This was hard for me. I had to let go of some things. WebWitch started a program where several PAs submitted songs to create playlists for players to listen to while playing in the Games. It was a great idea, but I was unfamiliar with Spotify. I had to let them run with their idea.

Delegate

With five days of content per week, I couldn’t run every live show, read every blog, and keep up with my responsibilities on the NCL Operations team. I had to learn to delegate. You can’t truly delegate without trusting your team, so refer to step one above. That being said, having JeanaByte and WebWitch do a first review of all the blogs and having Lead PAs be in charge of the weekly live shows, I was able to free up enough time to still manage the team.

Quality Over Quantity

My team has so many wonderful ideas that sometimes it can be hard to say no. Other times, I feel as though I’m dragging the content out of them with a whip. When the planning is a struggle, I remember quality over quantity. This can be hard when you feel pressured into doing more each time your team is successful. And from that, I’ve learned how to

Say No.

Seriously. This was probably the hardest lesson I learned. I get asked to give a lot of personal attention to people. I had to release a new contact policy that basically says I can’t answer individual requests for advice in order to be fair to everyone. The main reason for this was that I received the same requests from different people over and over again about questions I had already answered in my previously published content. Pointing people to the same blogs over and over again, multiple times a day was more than one person could do. Unfortunately, now I have to say no to those requests. If I get a really unique one, I try to write content about it, but otherwise, I just point people to my contact policy.

Trust Your Self

I made a few decisions that I regret because I wanted to be supportive of my team’s ideas and excitement. From that, I have learned that I should trust my gut when it comes to big decisions. Hopefully, you won’t be leading a team if you don’t have experience with your team’s job. When in doubt, trust your gut.

Don’t Be Afraid to Be Proven Wrong

If someone has an idea that they are really passionate about, give them every opportunity to succeed, but with a safety net. For example, if a PA wants to run an event. I need every detail planned out with dates, sponsors, locations, etc. before I can commit to that event. If they are able to work out all the details, they have my full support. If something is missing, the event is not publicized until these details are confirmed.

Stand Up for Yourself and Your Team

As JeanaByte was editing this blog, I was (forcefully) reminded to include this point. Sometimes I don’t see eye-to-eye with the NCL Board or Cyber Skyline team. I’m known for being a bit of a pain in the butt when I disagree. But when I stand up for my team, my players, and what I believe will be the best for the NCL Community, I do so knowing that I am the one person who can change the Games in the way I do. I’ve fought so many battles that no one in the NCL Community outside the NCL Operations team will ever know about. Some of these battles have taken YEARS for me to make progress on. Sometimes, I go full Kait-nado (that’s a Kait tornado in case you didn’t catch it) and almost RUIN projects in order to make sure we do what’s right for our NCL Community. I can’t talk about any of these, but know, the end result was worth the battle and I will continue to fight for my players as long as I hold this role.

Don’t Be Afraid to Fail / Try New Things

I’ve tried a lot of things as the NCL Chief PA. Some have worked. Others have not.

One great example of a Kait plan gone wrong was the idea to include HAND WRITTEN NOTES for anyone who beat all of the NCL Player Ambassadors in the Games. It ended up going over budget, being more than I wanted to write, and my hand may never forgive me for the cramps. (JeanaByte also may never forgive me for the hand cramps because she hand wrote all the envelopes.) But, we have since refined the process and learned that the sentiment is not lost if we use a printer…

Another is the time I tried to do all the budget stuff by myself. I am far too dyslexic for all those numbers. Thankfully, my team (ok, Jeana) came to the rescue and checked all of my math… and then took over the process. While we manage the budget via my plan, I am not allowed to keep the books.

When my team and I have had failures or missteps, we have learned from the process. These failures have helped us learn and grow and become a pretty amazing team doing really awesome work. I couldn’t be more proud of how far we have all come.

Don’t Lose Your Voice

Sometimes I feel like my personal voice is lost in the noise of the multitudes of content. More content is published on my blog that I didn’t write than content that I have. I don’t feel inspired to do a lot of write-ups on conference experiences, etc. that I used to do. In that, I sometimes feel that I have lost my voice. Then I go on a live show, see all my NCL friends, and remember why I started this team. Who I am isn’t lost by building up other voices. In fact, it is strengthened by the incredible people I have surrounded myself with. My voice now sings on behalf of over 5k NCL Players. When I speak, my voice is enhanced by the NCL PAs around me and I can do more good in this world by sharing my microphone (you know, this blog).

Never Forget Why You Started

While this may seem the same as the previous point, this one is to remind you to remember why you do whatever it is you do. What got you started? What drives you? Why is what you do important? With that, you can imagine where your team can go and what needs to be done to get there.

I’m sure I’m missing something as it’s been a really wild year. But I think I covered all of the things I never expected to learn. With that, I must say that I could not be more grateful for the team I have. JeanaByte, WebWitch, John Mako McGill, Fred, Paul, Gond0r, Hushie, MistressVenom, Aaron, and wolfshirtz are some of the most incredible people I could ever imagine working with. I’m so proud to lead this team. I can’t wait to see what we accomplish in the next year.

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