HOW TO BE A BETTER TECH LEADER
Being an effective leader in the tech industry can sometimes feel like being a Jedi master. Not only must you battle with your your clients and business teams to make sure that your product is good enough to ship on time, but you must also know the inner workings and motivations of your employees in order to circumvent or correct issues that may affect productivity.
Technology changes rapidly, and with its constant evolution, come a steady flow of new problems to work through. You will have to manage the early adapters to make sure that they can channel their enthusiasm for the new tech into results. Meanwhile, you must inspire and engage the employees who want to do things the old way or in a way that has worked for years.
More so than in any time in recent history, today’s workforce needs to feel encouraged, appreciated and empowered. They expect constant praise for minor victories. They want regular, one-on-one mentorship from their leaders. They are more likely to approach their managers about their concerns directly, and also to take their frustrations to social media if they are not addressed.
So how can you make sure that you are developing into the best leader that you can be?
This is a tip that seems to be overlooked in many blogs on leadership. However, it will be impossible to lead a team or to effect change without spending the time necessary to work through this tip. Are you an extrovert or an introvert and how do you relate to others? What are your strengths and where will your employees need to compensate for your weaknesses? Do you readily admit to mistakes or are you the type try and hide your errors? Once you understand your own habits, communication styles, and motivations, you will be able to adjust your leadership strategies accordingly to meet your goals.
It can be especially difficult to manage a team if your clients keep changing your end goal or your business team decides to cut funding. Stay strong. Stay positive. No project has ever gone to market without some sort of setback. The ability to adjust and push forward separates the successful leaders from the ones that are ineffective.
Learn to be a better project manager.
You may have gotten your current role a result of hundreds of hours in which you crushed your coding tasks and built elegant, functional tools. However, as a manager you may find that your programming abilities are the least of your worries.
Instead you will need to be the problem solver, who can make the calls and do the dirty work that no one else wants to do. You will need to be the facilitator, who gets your workers the tools, teams and timelines they need. You will need to liaise between your business teams, employees and clients. You will need to study or create the market for your project. You will need to follow up with your employees to gain an understanding of where they are in the production process. You will need to know when to get the hell out of the way.
Allow your employees to self-organize.
We understand that this may not always be possible. However, when and where it is feasible, you should allow your employees to self-organize. Not only does it take the task of having to delegate each task off of your plate, but studies show that the ability to self-organize is one of the leading indicators of stronger leadership overall.
You should absolute encourage an environment that allows employees to have an opinion. They may have ideas that can enhance your product or contribute to wider distribution. Furthermore, allowing your team to be a part of the decision making process helps to empower them and give them a sense of ownership for their work. However, you should avoid allowing your teams to waste time bickering over your decisions. Additionally, you should avoid waffling over your decision. You will gain more respect from your employees if you can demonstrate that you are a leader with a clear vision.
Get comfortable with admitting your mistakes.
It can be a bit intimidating to admit your mistakes to a team. However, not only does taking ownership of your errors foster good character, but it also helps to promote trust. You may find that your employees are capable of righting your wrongs in ways that you might not have considered.
Get to know your staff. Know their names, their likes and dislikes, the sports that their children play, their strengths and their weaknesses. Find a mentor. Ideally, the person you choose to mentor you will be someone with experience in your field or some who has worked for your company. Stay up-to-date on industry trends. Know which tools will be obsolete in the near future. Understand the ways that people are leveraging new technologies. Identify the gaps in the market.
By keeping yourself informed, you will ensure that you are well equipped to make the best choices for your team, your company and your career.
What other tips do you have for being a more effective leader?