Your company offered you a management job. You must have been very good at your job so far! However, this transformation means that your job will change now. Yes, you are an expert in your field, but you’ll need some different skills now. Starting as a lead means starting a new career all over again.
Think of it like this — you’ve been watching NBA for years. Does this mean that you can now go out on the court and be LeBron without the lifelong commitment and incredible skills? Of course not. Well, it’s the same with becoming a manager. You can’t go out there and manage a team without practicing. But, do you have the right skills to be a good team lead?
Here are some questions you should ask yourself before accepting a team lead job:
- Are you a speaker or a listener? If you want to be a good team lead, you need to be a listener. Listening to the needs and requests of your team members is crucial in order to understand how they function. Next, if your company is working for different clients, you’ll also be the one meeting with clients, so you need to listen to their requests and opinions. If your company has its own product, you’ll also be constantly communicating with your CEO, listening to their directions and advice. No matter whether you like it or not. You must remain calm and speak less while listening more.
- Can you see the bigger picture? Being a developer means taking care of just one part of the project. This role probably thought you how to pay better attention to details and focus on just one part of the job. However, if you become a manager, you have to be able to see the bigger picture. You’ll no longer have just one part of the job — you’ll have to take all pieces and solve the puzzle. You’ll have to identify all the resources your team possesses and make them fit into the big picture. Do you think you’re able to do that?
- Are you empathic? A team lead must have an understanding of the problems or the behavior of team members. Your team members will sometimes have situations or conditions that won’t allow them to give their best and you need to accept that. Being a good leader sometimes means being there for people. That’s how they’ll know they can rely on you in any situation. If you have an understanding for other people’s problems, you’re on the right track.
- Do you learn constantly? I’m sure you already know this as a developer, but let’s repeat once again — YOU CAN’T STOP LEARNING. Learning is crucial to everything you do in tech. Being a manager would require a lot of learning, especially in the beginning. If you are leading a team, you need to have knowledge of the things your team members are doing. Moreover, you are the one who is supposed to inspire learning in your team, and the best way to do it is to show that you are learning a lot yourself. Are you ready to learn?
- Can you serve others? No, being a lead doesn’t mean that your team members serve you. It means that you serve them. You’re here. ALL THE TIME. Whenever someone needs help, support, inspiration, motivation, YOU have the responsibility to provide it. People will call you all the time and you’ll just have to be there and serve them.
- How do you handle stress? Unfortunately, this is a stressful job. Much more stressful than when you were just a team member. People will piss you off. They’ll be late. They won’t listen to your instructions all the time. Deadlines will be tight. The CEO will want everything by tomorrow. Actually, the client needs it by the end of the day. You’ll get stuck at meetings with all kinds of people. You won’t be able to control everything. Do you think you can handle this?
If you want to be a team lead, you need to be BOTH manager and a leader. One doesn’t go without the other one.
A manager is a person who makes decisions about the team. Deciding who to hire, who to fire, deadlines, resources, measuring results — you need to take care of all these things. A manager is a person who analyzes every person and knows which tasks they can complete in order to achieve maximal results. The manager’s main task is to take the maximum out of everyone.
Leaders, on the other hand, are people who give their maximum to the team. Leaders are supposed to give their team inspiration, motivation, goals, and values. Leaders are here to communicate with team members and improve communication between them. In order to be a great leader, you need to use your experience to encourage the growth of your team members.
Think of the person who was your lead. What made them a great leader? What was it that you didn’t like? Think of all the leaders you’ve had, and take the best of each.
If you can’t think of any, maybe you should think about whether you should accept this position or wait a little longer. It’s would be much easier for you if you had previous experiences that could help you with managing others.
However, don’t refuse the job just because you’re afraid. Let’s face it — you’ll never be ready. You just need to possess that set of skills that make you a potentially good manager. And those skills will be improved over time.
People are creatures of emotion. It takes time getting to know them and understanding their capabilities. But, when you do understand them, it won’t be hard for you to take the most out of them. The question is — can you understand them? Can you be strict and compassionate for their emotions at the same time? Take time to get to know yourself before taking the team lead job and discover whether it’s suitable for you.
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