About eight months ago, I took up the position of Team Lead for a full-stack engineering team here at Intent.
It had only been a year since I joined the company and I was presented with a huge challenge – to take on a brand new position and help to lead an amazing team of people in building the best net-new connected device hardware projects.
Looking back, I’m amazed at what we achieved together, and I have learned a lot about leadership myself. So now, I’d like to share that knowledge with any of you who might want to become a tech Team Lead.
Without further ado, here are my four best tips on becoming an effective tech leader that will hopefully help you on your journey.
1. Build a trusting relationship with your team
It goes without saying that you’re most likely going to spend a lot of time with your team. Make them feel like they can count on one another, and that you’re here for them when they need you. This is a great starting point for building a good rapport with all team members.
Remember that your role is to support your team. That means approaching everyone individually, helping with their struggles, and making it possible for them to grow professionally. You’re the advocate of all team interests and a contact point between the company and your team.
2. Be honest, be transparent, and be yourself
I believe that the ability to tell if a person is being honest is kind of a human superpower. Somehow, we get a hunch about whether the person we interact with behaves naturally and speaks frankly, and we prefer to hang out with people that are authentic and honest with us.
As a leader, you should pay special attention to being genuinely sincere and natural when interacting with your team, as this is the only way to build a real, trusting relationship between you and your colleagues.
Transparency is an important aspect here. Obviously, you cannot share all your insight, but the information that you have and can speak about should always be communicated in a straightforward and unopinionated way.
Try not to attach too much of an emotional load to the information you share with your team, as this may influence their reception. Keep your communication simple, stick to the facts, and do not try to hide behind cliche platitudes – it will only undermine your authority as a leader.
3. Learn leadership theory and methodologies
Trust me, even learning the most basic leadership methodologies and processes will make you much better at handling all obstacles you’re going to face as a leader.
None of us are born with leadership skills. The ability to lead is the effect of our training and practice. Like in all other professions in the world, formal education and a strong grip on theoretical knowledge is a key factor that can help you guide your team through all the difficulties you’re going to encounter.
Try to educate yourself constantly; read books, listen to podcasts, always strive to become a better leader, and it will pay off in the end.
4. Do not manage, lead the way
This might sound extreme to some more traditional-minded leaders, but I firmly believe that being a leader doesn’t equal being a boss (at least not in all situations!).
Oftentimes, you’ll find yourself in the role of a sort of pioneer who is paving the way for the rest of the team. As John C Maxwell put it, “a leader is the one, who goes the way, and shows the way”.
You should never assign tasks to your team that you are not willing to perform yourself. Do not let yourself fall into the trap of giving orders and waiting for their execution. Rather, be the person who takes the worst part of the job yourself and become an example for the rest of the team. It’s the only way you will gain their respect and they will genuinely want to follow in your footsteps.
The best leaders I have worked with have always been extremely helpful and approachable - there were no barriers to talking or asking for help, even from people in way higher positions than myself.
It’s very valuable to the team when leaders create a culture of there being ‘no stupid questions’, as this encourages people to get potential blockers off their minds. It also helps to call out any elephants in the room, because no one likes working with something nagging at the back of their mind.
All of this adds up to a team culture with a huge amount of buy-in and removes a lot of friction from day-to-day planning and execution. It keeps everyone on the same page and helps them feel a shared value in the work they're doing.
I hope this article will help you to become the best tech leader for your team – one that’s able to inspire others to do better themselves. And if you're currently looking for a position in software and engineering then check out our careers page.
Senior Full Stack Developer & Team Leader