Software Development Leadership
What Is a Software Team Leader Responsible For?
Let's start by having a look at the roles and responsibilities of a software development team leader. It's different from a software developer. The leader is responsible for making sure the team performs their tasks, meets deadlines (as best as they can), make decisions, delegate within the team, and communicate with other managers.
They may not do a lot of actual development work. This will depend on the team and the organization, but a software development leader doesn't usually do a lot of the coding themselves. They are usually pretty busy with other tasks such as tracking work and communicating with the other managers (other managers, project managers, etc).
So, how do you actually take the next step and become a software group leader?
Be The Best Developer You Can Be
The first people chosen as candidates for a software development team manager role are usually the developers. Developers need to show that they are actually good at what they do. More than just competent, they need to stand out.
You need to be the person in the team that stands out from the others. You should be the one that everyone comes to for advice and help with their problems. If this isn't you now, then work on your skills and knowledge and try to become that person.
Express An Interest in A Team Leader Role
Team manager roles don't just get handed out blindly. You need more than just good development skills to become a team leader. Your manager and anyone else involved should know that you are interested in a team leader role. You can tell them when you have discussions with them about your career path and progression, or mention it to the HR department during any reviews that you have.
When a team leader position becomes available, mention it to your manager (or the manager of the new position). Let them know that you're interested. This will allow you to get feedback, and also to put your name in their head when they are deciding how to fill the role.
Work On Required Software skills
The skills required for a team leader are more than just awesome Software development skills - though they certainly help!
A software development team leader will need to know how to communicate with other people - other team leaders, managers, software project managers, and clients. The communication skills will need to be practiced and learned over time. Many developers don't initially have the communication skills needed, but if you're looking to get into a team leader role, then communication skills are a must.
Delegation is another skill that is needed. When you move into a team leader role, you'll need to learn how to pass the work on to members of your team. This includes a mix of knowing what your team is doing and knowing their abilities. Juggling the priority of your team's work is another part of the delegation and team leadership.
Understand The Big Picture
As a team leader, you'll need to understand the "why" behind a lot of what the company does. This will help when it comes down to working on IT projects, hiring staff, and other decisions made by the company. It will make it easier to speak to other team leaders and managers and work out how your team and their work contribute to the bigger picture and the vision of the company. If it's a client that your team is developing for, understanding their business and their needs is beneficial.
Help Your Team Be Successful
A team leader should have a desire for their team to be successful. Management of this team will involve helping them out when they are stuck. While you could help them when it comes to technical skills, the real part of this role is helping get past any roadblocks they might have within the organization.
Making decisions for the team, speaking to other people to gather requirements, and asking other teams to get tasks done - these kinds of tasks are ones that are better suited to a team leader. You doing these things for your team, it will help them be more successful and effective with their own work.
Becoming a good team leader involves being an approachable person. This involves your attitude as well as your behavior.
You should try to remain positive and helpful to others when you do your job. This will make you more approachable to both your own team members and other people in the organization. The company performs best when everyone is working well together, and you can help this by having a positive attitude and helping people do their job.
Your behavior also helps you to be more approachable. Don't sit at your desk with headphones on - this makes you seem unapproachable and closed off. Learn to greet people and give them attention when they approach your desk. Look at them and stop what you're doing. This might seem difficult, but in the bigger picture, it's more helpful.
A software team leader should stay calm, especially when things go wrong. Servers can crash, deadlines can be missed, data can be lost and all other kinds of problems can happen. As a team leader, you should be able to stay calm in this time, work out how to resolve the problem, or at least who talk to to get it resolved. This may be part of your behavior already - if it isn't learn how to be calmer. Calmness means better decisions, as you're in a better frame of mind to be able to make the right choice.
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