Are leaders born or made? How many times have we asked ourselves this question and not come up with a single answer yet? There are tons of guides out there for learning about team leadership. But as simple as it sounds, guiding and motivating people takes more than what meets the eye. Does everyone have what it takes in the end?
In my experience, keeping teams together and on the same page is a hard task for individuals new to leadership. When I got a chance to become a team leader, I had mixed feelings about it. Although the opportunity was promising, I was afraid of being seen as not experienced enough to become a role model for my team. I had a clear understanding that leaders must be proactive, confident, and inspiring so that others get inspired by their energy too. Even though it was hard at the very beginning, overtime I managed to become the kind of person I wanted myself to be. This is why I’m sharing 9 lessons that I’ve learned in my experience of practice leading teams.
1. Accumulate Expertise
Not everyone is fit for a team leader role. The number-one requirement is vast experience in what you’re doing. You have to be a professional in your field and be able to deal with issues of any complexity. You have to be an absolutely autonomous person who can handle any task and find a solution to any problem. If you feel like you need more time to gather relevant experience, there’s no need to jump on becoming a team leader too quickly. Take your time and enjoy your role as a team member; there’s actually a lot to learn. You have to understand how to approach business goals and what types of solutions fit them and know how to implement projects in different ways. Once you feel competent and ready to offer your leadership and guidance to others, it’s time to start unleashing your potential as a team leader.
2. Find Inspiration
When I think about team leadership, the first thing that comes to my mind is role modelling. Besides technical capacity and competence, a team leader is expected to lead by example. For this reason, they should have one or several people to look up to as well. As much as it can be someone you know in person, it’s also possible to look up to someone who is famous and encourages you to evolve and mentor others in your field. Whoever you look up to as your role model should possess the personality traits you would like to grow within yourself. Analyze what makes them attractive and natural in their role and define the habits that you can adopt from them. Keep in mind that they used to be in your shoes too, so avoid comparing yourself to them in a negative light.
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3. Do Not Be Afraid of Mistakes
Leaders seem to have an answer to everything but they didn’t get that ability through inaction. They tried and failed many times to become adept in their field and made tons of mistakes on their road to perfection. Hard decisions were made and extremely valuable experience was gained from their ups and downs. So why should you be afraid of that? If you don’t give it a shot, you won’t ever have a chance to become more mature or experienced. Reading lots of literature or watching educational videos can be useful, but it’ll never be an equal replacement to hands-on experience that you receive while facing risks and going through hard times. Being a leader means that you have to take these risks and deal with the consequences resulting from your decisions. Besides, confidence usually comes naturally with experience. So, the more you learn, the easier it will be for you to act in unknown and new situations and solve them.
4. Ask the Advice of More Seasoned Leaders
Nobody can give you a one-size-fits-all recipe on how to be a great team leader because it’s impossible to foresee what you’ll have to handle along your path. When you first embark on team leadership, there’s a chance it’ll be hard for you to step up and make the right decisions. But even if you feel overwhelmed or even incapable of solving one or another challenge, it doesn’t mean you don’t have the right to get help from other team leaders in or out of your organization who might be willing to give you helpful advice. Finding a mentor for yourself does not devalue your position or competence. On the contrary, it helps you build your independence faster as well as prevents you from making mistakes that you might not have been able to prevent on your own. Taking someone’s advice can be extremely valuable in easing your learning curve and helping you avoid unnecessary mistakes.
5. Get to Know Your Team
As a team leader, it’s extremely important to be familiar with your team. You should be aware of their strengths and weaknesses, their level of expertise, and their dedication to what they’re doing. Regular meetings with them is a good way to establish a good connection and trustful relationship. Do not get overly focused on their technical skills. You need to understand each team member’s ambitions, commitment, and level of interest in their role. Doing so reveals their personal advantages, which you can later leverage. Effective communication helps your team members feel comfortable with you. The more you know about them, the more personalized approach you can offer in your teaching and support to them. Likewise, it’ll be easier for you to settle disagreements and misunderstanding that may spark within your team. Remember that you’re responsible for their working environment and the outcome of their cooperation.
6. Make Time to Mentor Your Team
Mentoring is one of the most important parts of your interaction with the team. Here, your role is to build trust with each of your team members. You should devote time to guiding and helping them during times of need and give them tips and tricks that you’ve used before to make their work easier and more productive. Make sure that you dedicate your time to assisting them in creating their personal development plans in a way that matches their personal needs and allows them to grow a strong personality. Keep in mind that mentoring does not equal instructing. Let them be creative or even challenge you. This practice will let them be proactive and confident in their ideas as well as help you find workable solutions together.
7. Cultivate Transparency Within Your Team
If you’re thinking about other clues that’ll show you how to be a good team leader, transparency is an essential part of communication. If you want your team to grow and perform better, you should be honest about their work and give an unbiased opinion on their performance. Should they perform brilliantly, don’t be shy to highlight their efforts and commitment. Similarly, should someone waste their time or was negligent about their responsibilities, say it openly without purposely hurting anyone’s feelings. We use retrospective meetings for this purpose where everyone has a chance to review, analyze, and assess our results and how we can improve them next time. If you aren’t transparent with your team, it’s likely that you’ll see poor project performance because not everyone will be interested in collaborating and engaging in every aspect of work. You can also ask them what they think about your mentorship and whether you should change your approach to your guidance.
8. Mind Project-Related Issues
It’s common knowledge that developers tend to forget the fact that digital products are meant to solve a client’s business needs. They’re used to working on tasks without actually thinking about the value they produce in the long run. This is the aspect where the team lead is expected to shine. The team leader’s responsibility is to understand business requirements and translate them into the team’s work so that team members feel much more engaged in the process and see their contribution to business. In addition to that, keeping the team updated on industry changes and advancements is a great way to keep a developer’s confidence high. Domain-specific knowledge pushes growth and individual leadership within everyone on the team; keeping them ready to prevent project-related problems and solve them quickly when they occur.
9. Keep Learning
To be able to grow your team, you should evolve day by day. Learning new technologies, approaches to architecture, and enhancing your understanding of business domains is vital if you prioritize your team leader role and career. What’s even more important is that you realize the degree of responsibility that you undertake as a leader. The whole team’s outcome and satisfaction with their efforts will depend on your support and direction. If you’re always aware of that, you’ll never fail the people who’re put under your care and responsibility.
Answering the question: What makes a good team leader?, I would definitely say that it’s the desire for sharing experience and the ability to encourage others to excel at their work. It’s a hard road to step onto, but it’s full of joy and pleasure when you can see the fruit of your efforts. Stay positive about the changes that await you and face each challenge with a great deal of excitement and interest. A positive mindset will help you conquer all difficulties and inspire others to better themselves under your guidance.
For Further Inquiry
Being a gifted team lead is months of hard work and self-improvement. IT companies that invest in hiring certified and seasoned team leads are able to deliver competitive digital products and serve a larger number of clients. Computools is among the most considerate software development companies that take care of their team members and offer a variety of development opportunities for growing tech talents in-house. Their team leads are at the heart of software design and act as a link between the team and the client’s expectations for software development. If you’re searching for qualified software developers under the guidance of a transparent and knowledgeable team lead, message firstname.lastname@example.org to get more information about our work and services.