I have been in the tech industry for about 10 years so I’ve seen and experienced first-hand the changes that occur when a developer becomes a Tech Lead. Nothing prepares you for this new role. Suddenly, you are in charge of a team of experts who will contribute both technical and non technical skills. You’ll need to manage both types of skills in order to promote the best execution of the project you are leading.
In software development it is common to find multidisciplinary teams, in which each member has the ability to commit to a common goal. At least, this is how we work at Making Sense. We do it this way so we can provide a 360º vision of your project. In order to succeed, teams needs someone to coordinate them, and this is where the figure of the Technical Leader comes in. The Tech Lead doesn’t just lead the team, either. He or she will be coding as well, right alongside everyone else on the team.
What’s a Leader?
In order to be able to lead a team effectively, leaders must be committed to what they do. That involves understanding and aligning with the vision and mission of the company as well as the objectives of the project. This is the basis for building a good relationship of trust with both the team and the client.
In addition, a good leader must also pay attention to the following concepts:
Communication is a key factor
We need to be able to communicate effectively with the team, avoiding any kind of confusion that may arise and may contribute to the delay of what we should deliver.
The same thing happens with our Partners. We must always convey the actions or paths that the team decided to take, highlighting that the team works as a unit. If a new decision must be made, we must analyze it internally with the team before we can provide a possible solution to the client.
A leader must be a good observer
It is essential that a leader recognize his strengths and weaknesses. He must also perceive these main factors in the members of the team. It is important to detect virtues so you can strengthen them, just as it’s important to improve in areas where you have weaknesses.
This will provide the added value your team needs. Team members can increase alignment and improve on their deficiencies, cooperating with each other to complete a successful product. This is the step that will allow them to grow as professionals.
Another point framed in observation is closely related to team spirit. Often in projects, contexts change at global levels. When these changes become habits or are unexpected, they usually affect the team. This is especially true of those that are negative (eg: reduction of equipment, major shift of the working environment, etc…).
For that reason, we must be cautious and observe how the team responds to such changes and try to find the right words to communicate. Be honest with the team. Always explain what happened and try to show that you can learn from the changes. A team, even if they are in an “Agile” framework, must have the ability to adapt.
It’s important to know how to deal with pressure
This is important and requires absolute focus on the project, since when we lead a team, pressure is something that multiplies. We must prevent pressure from blocking the group and we must learn how to handle customer anxiety so it does not affect team performance.
A leader must create incentive
When talking about long-term projects, where the monotony of repetitive work can lead to the demotivation of the members, we must ensure that teams remain inspired. We should be able to encourage them with new challenges. We must take advantage of what we observe to seek challenges according to individual needs.
“We must ensure that teams remain inspired. We should be able to encourage them with new challenges.”.
Nicolás Martello, Tech Lead
A leader must encourage teamwork
A leader must carry through with the best decision proposed by the team, so it’s a good practice to learn how listen to them. We must rely on the knowledge that exists among the members and delegate work in order to generate confidence and give greater responsibility. Demonstrate that the role of leader can also be taken by another member; it’s another way to encourage everyone and prove that goals are achieved faster if you work as a team.
Experience as a Milestone
In the time that I‘ve been performed as a Technical Lead, I’ve learned that the fundamental key to leadership is the professional and personal experience that you bring to the table. To coordinate a team with effectiveness we must have technical knowledge, since we must be a reference for team members, guiding them in their professional growth. It’s our responsibility.
Here’s what else I’ve learned:
- We are not bosses. Being a leader does not mean having more power or being above the rest.
- We must guide the developer to find the right and optimal path to the solution.
- We do not always have the answer for everything. And yes, we can be wrong, we are human beings.
Becoming a leader is an evolutionary process, rather than a series of individual lessons. It’s a process that has no beginning, no end, but recurrent needs: education, reflection on what has been learned, taking risks and making mistakes, and mastering tasks in their entirety. For all the future and present tech leads out there, I hope this has shed some light on what it means to be a technical leader in the development industry. Thanks for reading!