Former semi-pro basketball player, based in Northeastern Italy, where I live with my family, I like to do lots of things, including spending time with my kid, my job in tech, reading, playing bass, woodworking. Too bad the day only has 24 hours.
Into computers and coding since the age of 7, two decades of professional experience in tech, I started as a programmer then I was quickly made a Team Lead, a position I have been in for a long time throughout my career, and it’s probably where am most impactful.
However, over the course of two decades, I have done a little bit of everything, from Sales Engineering to Network and Systems Administration, to coding, Systems Integrations, Software and Infrastructure Architecture, Project Management, etc.
Where I think I really shine at is leading teams, though, and here is my manifesto. The following is a non-comprehensive list of things I believe a leader should do in order to bring their teams to success.
- Leaders are not above their colleagues: they are pivotal points, facilitators.
- Leaders facilitate communication: sometimes specialists may have a hard time in finding a common jargon, but leaders can help because of their broader experience and capacity to change perspective.
They can in fact provide a higher-perspective view, which usually helps framing issues correctly.
- Create a safe environment for team members: leaders should be absorbing distractions and pressure, providing their collaborators with the maximum possible amount of serenity in order for them to work on the implementation and have fun doing what they are best at.
- Identify skillsets and inclinations of team members, and always try to assign work in the “Goldilocks zone“: (safe link to a NASA page, if you are wondering) not too easy, not too hard. Give your team a chance to learn and get better, without pushing them too far out of their comfort area.
- Transparent and timely communications are vital, both ways. Always try to provide actionable, honest, constructive feedback, and expect your teams to do the same. Are there plan changes? Let your team know as soon as you can. If you communicate well, you can expect your team do the same without even asking.
- Do not be afraid to show your weaknesses, both human and as a lead and engineer. If you are struggling with something, consider letting your team know. Do not expect yourself to be flawless, because no one is expecting you to be perfect.
- You are not expected to know everything: be happy when someone is better than you at anything. It is as a big learning opportunity, and an additional chance for the team to succeed.
- Explain your reasons: it is much more powerful when we tell our teams why we think a decision is better than the alternative. Imposing an opinion from above with no explanation means that the buy-in from the team becomes less likely to happen, and that hurts the trust-building process.