The path to becoming a great tech leader can be difficult. While it may be tempting to try to follow in the footsteps of trendsetters like Bill Gates or Steve Jobs, their paths to success may no longer be viable in the current tech landscape. The challenges facing the industry today are a far cry from what they once were.
With a global war for talent brewing, the focus is shifting away from top-down management and toward more human-centered approaches to leadership. Workers the world over are demanding more from their employers, and we’ve got a secret for you: it’s not all about salary.
What does a tech lead do?
Tech leads help drive high-level discussions regarding software architecture and the work teams are doing. They wear many hats, often balancing between the following roles:
- software architects
- software engineers
Technical meetings and breakdowns are generally run by these technical profiles as well.
Leaders create culture
Workplace culture has become a focal point for tech employees and is likely one of the factors that will determine a company's survival in the so-called “talent war.” Tech leaders can influence culture through institutional policy, but employees also value authenticity and support from their leadership.
What makes a good tech lead?
There are a number of traits that are highly valued by team members and have proven to be extremely effective when managing tech teams. The following are 7 traits that tend to be found in good tech leads:
Great leaders have a vision, and they share it with others. For developers in the trenches, working without a purpose can feel soulless and unrewarding. Tech leaders who actively share their vision get their teams invested in their projects, making them feel like they’re part of the process and doing something of value.
Having a clear, communicable vision also gives talent the confidence that they’re contributing to a common goal, which improves focus and engagement. When leaders and teams are aligned, productivity can soar.
For tech professionals, there are few things worse than leadership that refuses to embrace new technologies. It may seem ironic, but sometimes the cost of adopting new tech tools might seem like too big of a risk to gamble on.
For those working at the ground level, however, new tools can help optimize their workflows and improve productivity. It’s no surprise, then, that tech leaders who are open to adopting new solutions tend to be the most successful at leading their teams.
Trusting and Trustworthy
One pet-peeve software developers and IT operations talent share is the aversion to micromanagement. Micromanaging your team is a sure-fire way to destroy enthusiasm and create an uncomfortable environment. The message it sends is, “I don’t trust you to do your job.”, which hurts both your team’s confidence and its productivity.
Managers that trust their team members are most often seen as trustworthy in return. For tech talent, leaders need to be approachable when they’re experiencing difficulties. This can go a long way to improving productivity, company loyalty, and retention.
Managers without a background in tech can also frustrate tech talent. Being saddled with project managers or overly business-focused leaders can quickly lead to miscommunications and confusion. This can kill team productivity, increases intra-team tensions, and causes early burn-out.
While a tech leader doesn’t have to be an expert in every technology under their purview, having a background or a solid base knowledge in the technology their managing can make a huge difference. Most tech professionals prefer leaders that personally understand the challenges they experience and can guide them based on experience.
True leaders are those that foster communication and are open listeners. In software development, this is especially important, as the scope or requirements for developers and IT teams need to be clearly defined to prevent confusion.
For developers who spend most of their time creating features for clients, having the right specifications can save hours of wasted effort. Leadership that can ensure clear, consistent communication in this regard are most often responsible for the highest-performing teams.
Efficiency is a quality that all tech professionals appreciate. In software development, time and focus are valuable assets. Meetings that don’t add value or processes that are overly bureaucratic can be incredibly frustrating. What’s more, unnecessary distractions like these can have a negative impact on productivity.
Leaders should be mindful of their developers' time and book meetings only when necessary. They should also work to make bureaucratic processes as easy as possible to follow and navigate. This allows for work to be completed as productively as possible and with little time wasted and frustration kept to a minimum.
As the saying goes, “There’s no “I” in TEAM”, and when it comes to software development, this is especially true. Leaders who understand that the success of the group as a whole will ultimately lead to a successful product are often quite successful themselves.
Creating opportunities for growth within your team, pushing back against unrealistic demands from the business side, or advocating for the team’s well-being are all ways to work for the benefit of the team. For team-oriented leaders, success is a shared endeavor, and this creates an environment where tech talent can feel valued and supported.
Be the Tech Leader your Talent Needs
With the many benefits offered by digital transformation, companies offering tech and software solutions are primed for growth. Tech leaders are needed to lead new and evolving teams to meet the demand. Company’s must be very mindful of the talent they choose to fill these positions as not all leaders are created equal.
The “Great Resignation” has taught us all that employees will no longer tolerate toxic work cultures and poor leadership. Professionals affected by such situations are now leaving their positions in search of greener pastures. Great tech leaders are the key to creating cultures and environments that best,oth attract top tech talent and also make them want to stay.
Learn what else you can do to create great Software Development teams here.