Hats off to everyone out there is a Team Lead right now, it’s not an easy gig, there are lots of moving parts and it can be a challenge with your peers. One of my most memorable times as a Team Lead was when I asked someone to do so task and they responded back with – “are you telling me to do it or are you asking me to do it?” – in my head, we needed the task done, I had been asked my manager to get the team to do it, so I knew what I was saying but I responded with – “I’m asking you to help us out and get it done.” – to which they did.
When I’m asked about what the expectations of a Team Lead are, I generally boil it down to the following disciplines of work;
Right off the bat, the Team Lead is still contributing towards software development. They might be your best coder and you don’t want to lose that magic. You need them side-by-side with the rest of the team coding and delivering.
The remainder of the Team Lead’s time is broken down into the following areas that can come and go at different intervals.
A Team Lead is great for onboarding new resources to the team, showing them what is what, walking them through the code, introducing them to people on the team, and helping them navigate the first few weeks without fear or worry.
Despite everything I have tried, I still feel we can sometimes be afraid of our “managers” so it’s easier to ask a peer some of the questions that we don’t always want to be asking our manager.
Depending on the area of code they are working in. A Team Lead should be very familiar with what they are working on and viewed as a domain expert in that area. They don’t need to know it from memory, but they should be able to help the team and new developers with questions as well as providing architectural guidance on new features/requests coming in.
There are days when every customer is calling in and QA bugs are piling up. On these days, this is where the Team Lead shines and makes their presence known. If they are working with a Manager, chances are their Manager is doing damage control in other areas, while they are focused on keeping the team on point and providing support in other areas with other teams in the company. If they are on their own, it’s a busier day of coordinating a number of moving pieces.
The Team Lead role can be one of the most rewarding roles of your career, also one of your most difficult, but don’t give up, because what you get from it will fuel your growth for years.