Effective leadership in a technical role

At some point in your career as a software engineer, you would be promoted to be a leadership role. Then you realised having technical skills in your domain of expertise only is not enough to survive in the tech industry, but also you would be facing a lot of challenges to deal with and different crisis to handle every day. So, here’s the bad news and good news. The bad news is that you don’t naturally equip with the skillset to manage your team from your technical experience. The good news is that if you have an open mindset to learn, you can continuously improve to become a better leader.

First of all, you need to understand some basic principles of leadership. When you were a junior member, all you need to do is to complete the assigned JIRA tickets and get them done. But when you become more senior, you also need to take different initiatives, participate in cross-functional team activities, take responsibility for projects and think about strategies for your company. The reason a role is called the director is that you are supposed to give the direction, know the way and show the way. Therefore, my advice to you is to stay curious. Try to understand the decision-making process in your company. Putting yourself in a position to learn by not afraid to ask why.

Besides, being a leader doesn’t mean you have to be a jerk or an extra extrovert. According to research, there are six different types of leadership style which may fit better for you depending on the situation. These includes:

  1. Coercive leadership — crisis mode leadership
  2. Authoritative leadership — get others to accept a vision
  3. Affiliative leadership — creates harmony among a team
  4. Democratic leadership — consensus-building form of leadership
  5. Pacesetting leadership — sets a performance standard
  6. Coaching leadership — focuses on developing others

Understanding your leadership style helps you perform better in different situations. There is no one-size fit all solution and you have to adjust yourself for the team in different phases.

You need self-awareness above and also an understanding of your team. The different member has different strength and weakness while your role is to help the team achieve the goal. What you need to do is to set the goal of working as a team, focus on your communication with clarity and accuracy to all stakeholders. You give rewards and praise to encourage positive contribution while calling out any negative impacts for the team. You would need to handle conflicts among your members with fairness. More importantly, you lead by example, You would be a role model as people are watching what you do after what you say.

Furthermore, you would need to manage differences in working styles, relationships and conflicts within a team. It takes skills and sensitivity to manage starting from seeking to understand first. Then you try to look for similarities instead of difference as a good listener. Finally, you deliver your message with appropriate language so that you can get people to commit to respect each other and work together.

Overall, being technically capable in your domain is not enough to work effectively as a leader in the tech industry. You also need to developer attributes such as your vision, being decisive, show your integrity and commitment, demonstrate your confidence, ability to communicate, show your creativity, being inspirational, be able to collaborate and finally, be authentic.

I hope you find this article useful and start to have the self-awareness to become a leader. You would need to step up at some point in life especially when you see a problem that needs to be solved. You don’t need to seek authority approval as they may not be the best-informed person to solve the problem. You cannot be shy, but be proactive to look for resources around. The truth is, other people will not remember you because they are too busy with their life. There is a lack of leadership worldwide, that’s why I want to inspire you to be a leader and step up to solve our common challenges faced in today’s world.


Originally published at https://victorleungtw.com.

By Victor Leung

Experience in software development, consulting services and technical product management. Understanding of business and technology with an MBA in Finance and a Master degree in Computer Science. AWS Certified Solution Architect with experience in building products from scratch and serving as a charismatic leader.

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