As an individual contributor to software development, I used to feel effective and useful in delivering software solutions. This changed with the change of the role and lead to many weeks of redefining the purpose and focus of my everyday work.
Suddenly my technical skills felt less useful. And the lack of people skills and management experience became more obvious.
After a couple of months of struggling it finally struck me what’s the best way to contribute to my team. And based on my experience so far these are the two main things I believe a technical team leader has to do.
1. Foster new leaders
It might feel now that you’re the leader you should only give orders and assign low-level and simpler tasks to the “workers”. Meanwhile working on high-level, strategical and more complicated tasks.
But it’s not like that. Your everyday tasks should focus on making your team members better, mentoring them and delegating responsibility to them. You should make them grow so one day they would become a team or domain leaders by themselves.
You should protect the team of every blocker which might arise. Moreover, you shouldn’t become a blocker yourself. I believe it’s better to take 15min to explain and delegate a task which would take you 30min to a colleague than become someone others waits on.
Instead, you should contribute by sharing your team’s results to outside. Which leads to the second tip of team lead’s focus.
2. Be the advocate of your team’s output
This means you should communicate the results of your team’s work to the rest of the company and other team’s consuming the output. Here’s where your technical skills come to the rescue.
It makes it easy to grasp what’s the purpose of the products, software and libraries your team delivers. Which lets you efficiently explain it to the consumer whether they are the business people or other software engineers.
And collecting feedback and bringing it back to the team is another important aspect of how to help the team to improve their deliverables.
Before I go
So these are two main things I think every team leader has to focus from day to day. First comes People by mentoring and fostering the next leaders. And second is Company and Product by promoting and supporting the result of your team.
These things might seem very opinionated and subjective. And that’s completely true. I’ve come to such a conclusion based on my brief experience and I’m looking forward to seeing whether and how my views might change with more experience.
And of course, you have to take care of yourself too. Which means you come as the 3rd in the priority list. People, then Company and Product, and then You. But remember you shouldn’t become a blocker to your team’s work.
This is all from me and I would be happy hearing about your experience and your thoughts about the role of technical team leader.
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