Back to Basics

When I see a person take the leadership role in the team for the first time, I often see them repeating the same mistakes over and over again. I think it may be stem from how our society works, or it could be a culture thing. Either way, I want to get back to basics in this post and touch on the essential things that a new team lead should do.

The Smartest Person in the Room

This is by far the most common thing that I see in new team leaders. They often have the impression that now that they are a leader they need be the person who "knows it all" and should be the go-to person to ask for help.

However, this is in complete contradiction of what you should be doing. You should be allowing people to shine, let them take the limelight when they deserve it and encourage them to be the best they can be in the areas that they are most passionate about.

As a leader, you should be focusing on making the rest of the team better. The spotlight should no longer be on you!

Here I Come To Save The Day!

Another related issue that I often see is that the team lead wants to be the hero who swoops in to save the day, while having everyone awe in wonder at their great achievement.

While there may be legitimate scenarios where this may occur, it doesn't lend itself to growing a sustainable team, especially when you leave. By swooping in to fix that bug that no one could fix, or fixing a production issue by yourself, you don't give the other people in the team an opportunity to learn. It would be far better to at least let them pair with you, and if the situation allows, let them drive and make some mistakes along the way. In doing this, they too can learn and gain experience in these situations, which lends itself to a sustainable team.

"You're Not Doing It Right!"

The last thing that I have also seen is that new team leads will often dictate to their team exactly what & how things need to be done, and sometimes even get angry when people don't follow orders. This is typical of the command and control mindset where you lack faith in your team members to do their job. No doubt some people will need some mentoring and guidance but that is all part of the journey of being a team lead. Give people a piece of work and let them take ownership of it. Let them learn!

You can guide your team members, but never tell them what to do. They are collaborators, not subordinates!

Oh, and one more thing, if you find that people "don't listen", or aren't doing their job properly, there is a good chance that you may be the problem. Always make sure you are delegating correctly

Until next time...keep learning!

Mauro Da Silva

Learning everyday about software development, leadership & self improvement

Johannesburg, South Africa