Typically in software development, you become/apply/promoted to a Team Lead position based on your work and performance as a developer. Which is why it is so critical when hiring developers that you look at the Leadership Quotient that they bring to the table.
The day after a promotion to Team Lead is entirely awkward, whereas less than 24 hours ago you were only responsible for your code, now you all of a sudden you are responsible for;
All things that are not related to your performance anymore but instead the rest of your Team’s.
This post is called “Road to Team Lead” because you cannot learn/implement everything on Day 1 that will make you that incredible leader where people will stand up and say – “Where was this girl all our lives?” – no, at best you’ll be met with – “okay that’s a good idea” to “weren’t you just like us yesterday?” – but you were never “like us” yesterday because you are now a Team Lead and they are not.
The Team Lead role, in general, is seen as one of those stepping stones to being a Manager. But that could not be further from the truth as you could live in this role and be effective at it for a long time without ever desiring the need to become a Manager.
On your first steps to becoming a Team Lead, you need to understand the who, where, why, what and when of your role and what is now expected of you. Many new Team Leads forget this step as they either focus on what they previously did that made them successful (code) or drop everything and switch into a pure management role.
Who – who am I responsible for? Where should I expend my energies?
Where – where do they exist? Not everyone is going to be within arm’s reach.
Why – why do we need a Team Lead? Walk me through how we got here.
What – what are we driving towards? What is my purpose in this role?
When – when does this take effect? Does the team know of my new role?
From there, understanding the answers to those questions, you can start to form a strategy, focussed on interacting with your team, understanding your responsibilities and putting together a plan for where you want to take them. In addition, you’ll have the knowledge to know what is expected not only of your team but you.
I’ve always thought the Team Lead to be the fun role where you are still coding but also have the opportunity to try out a number of different leadership ideas at the same idea. When starting out in this role it can be a bit daunting so my simple advice to remind you of when feeling lost – “The role is called Team Lead, not Team Follower” – so go lead.
Want more? Check out my book Code Your Way Up – available as an eBook or Paperback on Amazon (CAN and US). I’m also the co-host of the Remotely Prepared podcast.
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