I’ve been developer at Infobip for five years and for the last three I’ve had a dual role and responsibility as a team leader. I’m often asked about being a team leader, what it takes, how I got here, and what advice I have for other developers.
Being a developer, and following the DRY (Don’t Repeat Yourself) principle, I wrote down my thoughts from the last time I had this conversation with a developer and put it down in this blog post so I can just send a link next time. Efficiency is everything, you know.
[To respect the privacy of the other person, they will be referenced as “Padawan” in the post. The integrity of the conversation has been maintained, but the phrasing has been edited for further protection from identification.]
Padawan: Hey! I heard you are a team leader. I’m a developer right now, but I’ve been wondering if leadership might be the right career path for me, also. Can I ask you a few questions?
Me: Of course! I cannot guarantee that I can answer all your questions, but we can give it a try. What’s got you thinking about being a team leader/manager?
Padawan: I’ve been a developer for three years now. And it seems like a step forward to me.
Me: First, let’s get rid that assumption. Becoming a manager is not the only way of building your career. In software development, there is a need for experts now more than ever. I know some developers earn more than the managers leading them. On the other hand, being a manager opens some other doors in the company. But being a manager differs from company to company, so I can only talk about my experience here.
Padawan: Can you describe your role? What is the function of a manager role at Infobip?
Me: My role is actually called “Team Leader”. Currently I have a team of 4 developers reporting to me. We also have a product owner who handles product requirements and priorities. Together we make up the development team.
My main duty is keeping the team performing well. Keep them motivated, protect them from disruptive influences, and empower them, so they can grow in their careers. I also help the team manage itself following the Agile Scrum development methodology (more about Agile and Scrum).
Padawan: What about the “other doors” you mentioned before?
Me: A friend shared a good quote with me recently: “Leading people will be required while mankind exists, but software is not as stable”. Together with your team you can have a significant impact in your company much more easily than you could alone. Working with people makes this role more dynamic and interesting. Last, but not least, the impact on the company and responsibility is followed by rewards and benefits. Being a leader is much more than being in charge. It’s working together to make a positive impact on the company and help each team member grow.
Padawan: Do you still have time to develop?
Me: Because I have a small team and we’ve been working together for a long time, I actually get spend most of my time developing. I do this partly because I love programming and partly because I don’t want to lose a step with software development trends. Developing also gives me good insight into the products, which in turn helps the team as well.
Padawan: Will there be a place for more managers?
Me: If you want to become a manger/team leader, there will be a place for you. Software development is a healthy and fast growing industry. There is always an increasing need for managers. Infobip is growing rapidly, and if you show some interest and potential, you’ll get your chance quite soon.
Padawan: Sounds good. If I wanted to become a Team Leader, how should I start?
Me: That is a big question. First there are some skills to master.
You should get familiar with some of the popular development methodologies. Agile is a proven and common principle and important to understand. There are quite a few Agile methods, for example, we adopted Scrum here and it has turned out great.
There is a lot I can go into about how teams are formed and how to manage new versus existing team. But, maybe we can talk about that later if you’re interested, of course.
Padawan: Exactly! Currently, my head is full. I have to talk to myself about this.
Me: That guy should be totally on board with your decision. But don’t let fear keep you from deciding! I’m always here to answer your questions.
That’s how the conversation went. In another post I’ll talk about forming teams and team development.
Petar Dučić, Software Engineer / Team Leader