If we were to name the staircase which elevates a coding expert to a tech lead then most appropriately it can be called, “Leadership Quality”. If you have what it takes to be a team leader then congratulations you have earned your place as a tech lead. But more often than not, when a lifelong developer with little or no prior experience of managing a team of junior coders is entrusted with the responsibility, he gets overwhelmed. The fact that now you are in a decision-making position, demands newfound confidence and leadership from you.
So what are these things which can help you play a lead role ?
Qualities of a Good Tech Lead
When we think of a tech lead the image that comes to the mind is that of a tech expert with outstanding administrative and managerial skills. This might seem like a daunting task at first but after a while, you fit well in the new position and maybe start enjoying it as well.
- A good tech lead should be
- Excellent at managing things according to the priority
- A team player
- Understanding and sympathetic towards his teammates
- Having great communication and negotiation skills
In a nutshell, a tech lead should be empathetic, visionary and a team builder.
Tips and Tricks to be a Great Tech Lead
Understand your position
When you become a tech lead, you should understand your position as a team leader in addition to your role as a team player.
Now this is not a position where you should act like a dictator, it is a position where you should serve the role as a gel that puts people together and infuses a sense of team-spirit in your junior developers.
That will be your single biggest achievement as a tech lead. Leadership is all about walking the middle path. If you become too authoritarian, you might be able to get some short-term results but the junior coders will never get a chance to grow as a developer and they won’t respect you from their hearts. On the far end of the spectrum if you are too lenient and too friendly, workers might start to shirk away from their jobs. So choose when you need to carry a stick around and when a carrot will suffice.
Task delegation and Capacity Building
You can begin your job by delegation of tasks. As a team leader it might take you some time but after a while you will learn the individual weaknesses and strengths of all those who are working under your command. Accept that all tech developers are not equal in terms of the quality of code they write or the programming expertise they have. Try to encourage them to hone their individual skills but more importantly, accept them with their flaws and imperfections and exploit every individual’s potential.
You can do this by engaging them in healthy competition, offering perks and incentives to the workers for their achievements and boosting the confidence of those who might be underperforming for some reason.
Sometimes there are heaps and heaps of work and this seemingly never ending task starts to take a toll on you and your team. At this point you should Prioritize!
Then start with the most high-yield task and slowly work your way down to the least important ones. As a leader, you can divide your team into small groups and delegate the tasks according to their expertise, with the group with the most expertise getting the most important task.
Shed Some Responsibility from Your Shoulders But Not All of It
Now this is very important because as a leader you have additional responsibilities of supervision and management. You can take a breather by dividing some of your work among your teammates. This is again a tightrope walk. If you give up coding completely then you might forget the ropes of the business because coding is something which needs to be constantly engaged with. Plus if you abandon your role as a developer then chances are that the developers working under you stop looking up to you.
Studies show that people tend to respect those leaders who rise from the ranks and still maintain their roots.
So coding is your root. You should manage it alongside your role as a tech lead.
Be a Good Communicator with Businessmen
The usual personna of coders and developers is portrayed as that of a geek with bad communication skills. Although the general conception might be inflated, but still as a tech lead you should have great ability to communicate with your clients. Understand that businessmen are not technical people and they do not understand the intricacies of how programming works. Take them through the process in understandable terms.
Also your tech team does not have great entrepreneurial skills so the responsibility of acting as a liaison between the client and the coders, falls upon your shoulders. Negotiate on your behalf of your team because at the end of the day a captain is as strong as his teammates are.
Be Crystal-Clear About the Agenda
As a tech lead you should lay down the agenda and walk your team through it step by step. When trying to explain them what they need to do, use clear cut terminologies and be very straight to the point with your approach. If you leave the margin for ambiguity then you might end up getting the task botched, only to the frustration of yourself and your team. As a tech lead you are supposed to know the job well and once you do, make sure your team understands it properly as well.
Empower Your Team
Do not stick to the leadership position and make sure you let the junior coders groom themselves so they might fill your place in the future. Empower them and have trust in them by not interfering in their work while still maintaining a technical oversight.
See the Bigger Picture
Leaders are generally supposed to have better vision and they should not have a myopic point of view regarding the task they do. A leader does not contain himself just to the job at hand, but also keeps a shrewd approach towards it’s possible ramifications and consequences. Therefore you should take decisions for your stature as a team leader.
A tech lead delivers the required task while making sure he grooms individual coders as well.
We hope that these tips and tricks might help you cope better with your new position as a tech lead.. Once you fit well in your position you will not only enjoy the job but will also become a source of positive energy for your subordinates.
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