Leading a software development team to success takes great effort, just like leading any other team. It takes great leadership skills to build successful software development teams. These great leaders are not afraid to recalibrate strategies, make tough decisions, and ensure that the workflow is efficient and deliverables are being met.
In leading teams, one must be able to have a keen understanding of people. A great leader understands the strengths of people, their motivations, and what excites them in collaborating with others. Here are effective ways in leading successful software development teams.
Know Yourself and Ask for Feedback
Knowing yourself, your management style and techniques will help in identifying how you can properly lead your team. A little self-reflection will go a long way. Assess yourself and find out your strengths and how you can use them to help in leading your team.
Meanwhile, be critical in improving your weaknesses. How can I improve myself to be better in helping my team?
You might be in charge, according to your job title, but it doesn’t mean you have the same style of working with your team. Always ask for feedback on your leadership style, whether it is suitable for the work dynamic of the whole team.
Good intentions are great, but as a leader, you’re also accountable for your decisions and should be amenable to modify your approach if necessary. This way, you gain the respect and the trust of your teammates.
Get to Know Your Team and its History
Set some time to get to know your team. Have a meeting and ask them about their strengths, weaknesses, technical capabilities, and self-learning aptitude. Learning these will help you in assigning them to suitable tasks and will aid in defining your expectations for the team. You can also arrange some fun assignments and tasks for the team.
It shouldn’t always be about work per se. Every week, you can schedule a meeting to check up on your teammates. Be genuinely curious about their well-being and get to know them outside of work. After all, we all have lives outside of work.
Simple questions like, “Are you okay?” and “How are you?” definitely help in understanding your team better. Doing this encourages trust and camaraderie within your team. Understanding the needs of your team and their significance in the company, showing that you genuinely care, will inspire them to collaborate better.
If you’re new to the team, you may ask about the leadership style of the previous team lead. Ask what works and what does not so you know what to retain and what to change in how your team works.
Successful leaders effectively match the competencies and expertise of their team members. They know how to activate the talent around them.
Effective leaders of successful teams know what buttons to push, what levers to pull. Plus, they always know when to do them.
Set Clear Expectations and Methodology
After getting to know your team, it’s time to set clear expectations and methodology. To me, it goes into three parts.
First, you need to set clear expectations to your teammates. Clearly discuss the client’s and your (as their leader) expectations from your team. This goes without saying, but it’s important to clearly communicate this with your team, so the client knows what to expect.
Second, your team should also have expectations from you as their team lead and go-to person for their concerns. Your team will have expectations from your client, too.
And third, the methodology and other requirements should be clearly defined as possible. This will set transparency about the project to all sides. The client needs to have their documentation of what needs to be done for the project. Software development methodologies like Agile, Feature-driven, Rapid Application, and etc. could be used for the project but it still depends on what the client requires.
For us at Flexisource IT, we found Scrum as a very effective approach in software development. Scrum is an agile framework that runs on short sprints (iterations running one- to four weeks) where we do daily standup meetings and retrospective meetings on the last day of the sprint. Our Scrum masters help measure progress and assist in planning the next steps of the development.
Be Available and Be a Servant to Your Team
Not literally though. I did not mean you should wait for the beck and call of your teammates. By being available, I meant being available to assist our your teammates whenever they have concerns and issues regarding the project.
Being available gives the impression that you’re dependable which is a trait people look for in a leader. Whether giving solutions or just simple nods of approval, being available to your members strengthens teamwork and boosts your team’s morale.
Provide Honest Feedback to Your Teammates, Good or Bad
As a leader, it’s important to the members of the team to get feedback on whether they did good or bad. Give credit where credit is due. Recognise the efforts given by your team. Take time to give your teammates the proper accolades and give them pointers in areas they could improve.
Nothing is better than gaining the respect and recognition of your teammates. It wouldn’t hurt to recognise and reward great achievements. It also increases the morale of the group. Don’t take performance for granted, be a kind of leader that reassures and pays attention to the team.
Be genuine in recognising their efforts and you will bring out the best in your team!
Even when you are leading the team, provide an environment that encourages leadership. As a leader, you can do so by assigning your team members tasks that they can lead, even as simple as preparing a report. By taking a step back, you give your teammates an opportunity to show their independence and leadership.
Remember, leaders and authorities are different. Leaders empower their teammates and authorities don’t necessarily know how to effectively lead. The former has followers who follow them out of respect and admiration, while the authorities have followers obliged to follow them.
Actively Manage Through Adaptive Change
As a leader, you have to be flexible and adaptable, especially when managing your team and the demands of your clients. Great leaders know how to balance out the deadlines and the capacity of their teams as of the moment.
They also know when it’s time for a change. Time to reinvent the business, or at least how things are run in your team. It is necessary to communicate why you’re making the change in the first place, so they will understand the bigger picture and goals of the company.