7 Traits of Successful Team Leaders

It is no secret that a company’s most valuable asset is its people. Afterall, they form the teams and departments responsible for one or more projects. In an IT company, software source codes are designed, built and maintained by a team that ensures everything remains on the right track, and one of the most important roles in this team is the Team Leader.

A Team Leader, also known as a Tech Lead, Engineering Manager, etc., is the person who is responsible for the team members and their projects including business growth, deliverables, code standards and beyond. Team leaders are often engineers as they require the technical expertise, but what does it take to truly be a successful Team Leader? Here are my observations:

Communicate, Communicate & Communicate!

I cannot reiterate enough the importance of communication in being a successful Team Leader. Delivering the information clearly and concisely is crucial as the team needs to know exactly what you want from them. And because people can have different perceptions of the same topic, it is your responsibility to eliminate the confusion either verbally or through written communication.

Take Full Ownership

As a Team Leader, you are required to take full responsibility of your code, project and every decision you make. If a bug arises, you cannot blame the team member that contributed to it, but rather either fix it yourself or assist your team in fixing it. Taking full ownership will result in your team trusting you and standing by you in all good and worst-case scenarios!

Lead by Example

Lead by example, it will be appreciated by your team if you try to solve problems by yourself and present them with the correct way to do it. You should also always offer to help them in cases where they are unable to handle a specific task. In return, your team will also begin problem solving and offer help where needed!

Share Your Knowledge

It’s very important that you share knowledge with team members continuously and efficiently. This can be achieved through conducting technical review meetings, initiating workshops, and presenting technical talks and presentations. During those activities, be sure to be alert, listen to team members and give back.

Never Stop Learning

Being a Team Leader does not mean that the learning curve has stopped for you. There are always new ideas and approaches to investigate, so get out of your comfort zone and learn something new through reading or taking up new courses. While you learn, don’t forget to also teach your team members.

Manage Your Time

Meeting deadlines in the IT world is crucial, so not only do you need to manage your own time, but your team’s time too. Keep tracking progress, prioritizing tasks, limiting interruptions and managing meetings to make sure your team is focused and meets deadlines.

Always Do the Right Thing

Your team depends on you to do the right thing, so when a conflict arises, remain calm, be prepared and do what needs to be done to get it fixed. Share an action plan with the team, be honest about the challenges and expectations, and maintain integrity in your approach. Your team is depending on you.

Finally, in my experience, I have witnessed many developers avoiding being in the Team Leader role as they would like to focus on code and not be involved in leadership and management. However, being a Team Leader means you still have the chance to write code, review your team’s code, make design decisions and search for new technologies. Another fun aspect of it is automating the team’s work in building or deploying a new software. So, if you are considering being a Team Leader, it will be an exciting new journey for you, but don’t forget to keep in mind the 7 tips for success.

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