By: Harshit
May 31 2019

Understanding Technical Leadership

Understanding responsibilities as a technical leader

technical leadership

Technical leadership has come a long way and has to go a long way. This is in synchronization with the ever evolving company culture and workplace. As a technical leader, you are supposed to take full charge of the technical front of things, economically and ergonomically. The board will rely on you for the technical advancements across the company and will also question you for whenever they feel necessary. 

What is fundamental technical leadership?

It’s very much oriented towards people and productivity management. This is Technical leadership is just as people-centric as other types of leadership, and you need to be familiar with how your actions impact others and have the gravitas to make a difference. 

Remember: getting people to follow your lead can be even more important than knowing how to solve technical problems. Ignoring people can be career suicide for a technical leader, influencing them is where magic really happens. 

Try to feel like it’s your job to help your team out 

Your authority in a technical leadership position—or any leadership position—is going to arise from what you can do for (or to) other people. Healthy authority here stems from you being known as a tried-and-true problem-solver for everyone. The goal is for other people to seek you out, not for you to be chasing down people for code reviews. For this to happen, intelligence and skill are not enough—you need to make a point of being helpful. 

The true measure of how helpful you are is the technical know-how of the entire team. If you’re awesome but your team can’t produce excellent work, you’re not a technical leader—you’re a high-level developer. There is a difference. Every bit of code you write, every bit of documentation you put together should be suitable to use as training for others on your team. When making a decision about how to solve a problem or what technologies to use, think about what will help future developers.

What are some responsibilities of a technical leader ?

Let’s dig into some responsibilities of a leader with technical acumen. 

Thinking realistically and defining reality for the technical side of the business. 

That includes providing a clear example of technical excellence and productivity for the rest of the team. The team should be looking at the technical leader as somebody to emulate and follow. Leading by example is crucial in software engineering. Maintaining the project technical vision clear for everyone, from beginning to end. When the team has questions about a particular project or a technical direction, the leader needs to have answers or ways to get answers. A leader without answers is a bottleneck.

Setting a promising and clear vision in terms of technology 

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From the very beginning to the end. When the team has questions about a particular project or a technical direction, the leader needs to have answers or ways to get answers. A leader without answers is a bottleneck. 

Addressing tough and difficult to solve problems and leading the solution aspect of it. 

When engineers are in the middle of a difficult problem, they often need a sounding board for technical brainstorming. The technical leader should be naturally seen as the ideal candidate for such discussions and should be able to provide suggestions on how to solve engineering challenges.

Being aware of the team's skills and core competencies

Knowing team members strengths and weaknesses. It is a technical leader responsibility to know his or her players and understand their technical strengths and weaknesses. With that knowledge, a lead is able to farm out the work appropriately to the right people.

Directing the team in terms of learning and actual work 

A technical leader needs to be seen as a mentor for team members; somebody that can help other engineers improve and move forward in their technical journey. You don’t need to know the answer for every problem, you need to be able to enrich the team on finding the solutions on themselves, step in where the problem requires your absolute indulgence, help them in hunting a solution and you are good to go on the technical leadership track. 

Keeping the core fundamentals of a project aligned with the growth 

Developers building parts of a project must keep a focus on what they are doing. It is up to the technical leader to keep the big picture and most of the high-level engineering details. Without that view, the team risks making inconsistent or even incompatible choices.

Communicate expertise and intelligence while keeping things less complicated

It can be tempting to protect our expertise by making things appear more complicated than they are. But in reality, it doesn’t take a lot of intelligence to make something more complicated than it needs to be. It does, however, take a great deal of intelligence to take something complicated and make it easy to understand.

Always listen to your peers

The art of listening is tough to incorporate, especially if you are a proactive person. You will always understand people better and be able to address their points or concerns in a much more profound way if you listen to them intently, let them finish their point comfortably and they put forward your stance or thought process on the same point. 

Remainder

Technical leadership can be a tough concept to understand but given the business dynamics today, it’s hard to say that we can define what is and is to come in the future in terms of technical leadership, tech leads may even need to take care of the business output of the technical front. All we know for now is that it is going to require more and more knowledge and expertise to make sure that the technical leadership doesn’t face like a skill shortage. It’s more like a continuous learning and adapting to the technical environment.