Navigating Challenges: Being a good Technical Leader (part 2)

Navigating Challenges: Being a good Technical Leader. Part 2.

Vision over visibility. TL needs to be above stats and information. A seasoned technical lead evolves into a visionary leader who shapes the organization’s culture.

In the prior article we talked about mentorship skills as one of five skills that are important to the role of Technical Lead. This article will focus on leadership skills of the TL and how it should grow over time. Both mentorship and leadership skills are crucial in shaping company culture. Other three are more related to the projects, hiring and business development. Business quality and business sustainability we will cover in future articles. 

Being able to lead one mentee, a group of mentees or a whole team of different technology developers is a leadership skill for itself. Technical supremacy is like the prerequisite for leadership, but not enough to really touch other people, influence them. Being able to repeat leadership in different situations is also on a list of a skilled TL. 

Leadership level 1: Self-awareness and Skill Acquisition (junior)

Technical leads start their journey with a strong foundation in technical skills. They are beginning to understand their leadership style, strengths, and areas for improvement. Become aware of themselves and their influence or lack of it to other people. First to take the initiative, try to influence the team, sometimes demonstrating impatience. TLs understand the need for individual areas of responsibility, but are not always able to correctly formulate them. They rely on someone else’s experience, able to distribute tasks, formulate the strengths and weaknesses of teammates. Monitors the result and focuses on shortcomings and corrections.

Leadership level 2: Effective Communication and Team Management (middle)

Over time technical leads learn to communicate effectively with their teams and stakeholders. They are able to manage team dynamics, and delegate tasks efficiently. First to take the initiative, influences part of the team, helps to take the initiative too, plans and distributes areas of responsibility based on the results of communication with the management team. Able to correct behavior by using general kickoffs more often than individual ones. Knows what would be of interest to the team, able to identify strengths and weaknesses, but not always able to take them into account when distributing tasks.

Leadership level 3: Strategic Thinking and Decision Making (middle high)

Technical leads start to engage in strategic thinking, planning for the team’s future, and making informed decisions that impact the broader organization. Helps the team to take the initiative, independently plans and distributes areas of responsibility. Tactfully directs each team member, corrects behavior, helps others to take responsibility for themselves, gradually involving them in the process. Has a general picture of the development of his/her direction in the company, able to correlate this knowledge with the reality of his/her team. Focuses on the strengths and weaknesses of the team and its members, able to give several examples for each. Keeping regular 1:1 meetings, and building culture around it helps on this journey. Problems inside the team will not be spoken about if nobody don’t insist on regular communication and feedback.

Leadership level 4: Innovation and Influence (senior)

Elaborate on how technical leads begin to drive innovation within their teams, mentor others, and expand their influence across the organization, contributing to its strategic direction. Takes initiative beyond his own team to adjacent teams. Plans and distributes areas of responsibility in cross-team interaction. Able to make one team from different teams. Tactfully directs everyone who participates in the target processes, corrects behavior, helps others take responsibility for themselves, and pays significant attention to the involvement of teammates. Has an overall picture of the development of the business and its direction, able to participate in discussions with the management/managers of the company, suggesting options for improvement. Knows the interests of teammates, maintains cohesion in the team, successfully resolves conflicts.

Leadership level 5: Visionary Leadership and Organizational Impact (senior +)

Vision over visibility. TL needs to be above stats and information. A seasoned technical lead evolves into visionary leaders who shape the organization’s culture, champion change, and have a significant, lasting impact on its success. Takes initiative that goes beyond his/her direction, organizes corporate projects that require the participation of colleagues of different profiles and levels. Plans and allocates areas of responsibility for the entire project. Tactfully directs everyone who participates in the target processes, corrects behavior, helps others to take responsibility for themselves. Has an overall picture of business development and takes an active part in strategizing. Able to articulate values that are important to the company and employees, maintains team cohesion, monitors engagement levels, knows how to identify deviations, successfully resolves conflicts at any level. Five levels and five skills for an excellent TL. Please do care about the ones You have and help them in finding out the mysteries of leadership. Invest time and money to help them help You drive your business forward. Integrating feedback mechanisms, such as peer reviews or mentorship feedback, as a tool for growth at each stage could also offer actionable strategies for aspiring technical leaders. Lastly, emphasizing the role of continuous learning and adaptability in leadership development could reinforce the message that leadership is a journey rather than a destination. In the future I will try to shed some light on TLs role in hiring, onboarding and client relations. Thank You for reading.


What role does emotional intelligence play in the leadership development of a Technical Lead?

Emotional intelligence is pivotal for TLs as it enhances their ability to understand and manage their own emotions and those of their team members. It improves communication, conflict resolution, and empathy, enabling TLs to create a positive work environment that fosters collaboration and innovation. Emotional intelligence also aids in adapting leadership styles to suit different team dynamics and individual needs.

How can Technical Leads measure their progress in leadership development?

Progress can be measured through self-assessment tools, feedback from team members, and performance metrics related to project success and team satisfaction. Setting clear, achievable goals at each stage of leadership development and regularly reviewing these goals can help TLs gauge their improvement. Participation in leadership training programs and mentorship from experienced leaders can also provide benchmarks for measuring progress.

How can TLs foster a culture of innovation within their teams?

Technical Leads can encourage innovation by creating an environment where team members feel safe to express their ideas and take risks. This involves recognizing and rewarding creative efforts, facilitating brainstorming sessions, and providing resources for experimentation. Encouraging cross-disciplinary collaboration and staying open to adopting new technologies or methodologies can also spur innovation.

What strategies can TLs use to maintain team motivation and engagement at each leadership level?

To keep teams motivated, TLs can set clear, achievable goals, offer regular recognition of achievements, and ensure that each team member understands their role’s impact on the organization’s success. Providing opportunities for professional development and creating pathways for career advancement are also key to maintaining engagement.

How can TLs balance technical expertise with leadership responsibilities as they advance?

Balancing technical expertise with leadership tasks involves delegating technical responsibilities while focusing on leadership growth( TLs mentees will do parts of the job for him). TLs should invest time in developing soft skills, such as communication, emotional intelligence, and strategic thinking, which are crucial for effective leadership. Mentorship from senior leaders and participation in leadership development programs can provide valuable insights and guidance.

Ready to Enrich Your Team?

Kristijan Pušić

IT consultant and Business developer

Our consultant is at your disposal from 9 AM to 5 PM CET working days from Monday to Friday for any additional questions.

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    Setronica is a software engineering company that provides a wide range of services, from software products to core business applications. We offer consulting, development, testing, infrastructure support, and cloud management services to enterprises. We apply the knowledge, skills, and Agile methodology of project management to integrate software development and business objectives effectively and efficiently.