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Leading a Software Development Team: Guidebook for CTOs and Team Leaders

A comprehensive guide written by leaders for leaders. Learn how to lead a team and boost your career as a CTO.

In this guide, you’ll learn:

  • How to lead and motivate a development team

  • How to expand your knowledge and abilities as a leader

  • How to align IT projects with a business strategy

  • How to deal with technical debt

  • What are the benefits of code ethics

  • How to approach a new data science problem

  • Which management certificates will seriously boost your knowledge

  • Which blogs and podcasts are worth following

  • and more..

Introduction

It’s no secret that tech leaders face a lot of challenges: from the ones connected to managing the team, through finding the balance between management and programming, to properly aligning the company’s business vision with technology.

In this handbook, we’re going to address all these problems and look for solutions.

Obligations of a leader

Being a CTO or a leader of the tech team means more than leadership. 

It is:

  • supporting your team when they’re in trouble or problems are piling up,
  • inspiring them to work towards a big outcome,
  • communicating visions clearly,
  • guiding through challenges,
  • allowing others to take part in making important technical decisions,
  • creating and following plans,
  • helping your team grow and develop tech skills.

To be a better leader, you need to grow competences to handle each of these aspects.

Tips for tech leaders

  • Be a great communicator. Listening to people’s needs, business requirements, and doubts. Providing support and solutions if you want to build a successful company.
  • Technical skills and know-how. To make the right decisions, you have to understand what your team is working on and which direction or technology will be the most beneficial.
  • Understand business. You need to combine the business needs of your company with the technology your team creates. 
  • Appetite for knowledge. Develop what you already know and follow tech trends. Be up to date and look for better solutions. 
  • Have expectations. Measure the team’s progress or help developers to do so. But remember that most teams work best when their members have creative freedom.
  • Give feedback. Let people know when they’re doing great or bad. Help them to improve and learn.

Crucial skills

Decisiveness

To make positive and timely decisions, remember that the most obvious answer isn’t necessarily the right one. Be aware of what you’re basing your decision on, but simultaneously don’t be afraid of making a mistake.

Manifest management skills, tough work ethic, and base your authority on advice, example, mutual respect, and coaching.

Problem solving 

Problem-solving at the leadership level must be aligned with the company’s strategy and its business goals. Problem-solving skills involve striving to understand the problem, asking the right questions, visualizing certain processes, evaluating options, selecting one or a few, and monitoring results.

Strategic thinking

Leaders must follow industry trends and constantly analyze. You need to constantly figure out how technology could drive the whole company toward growth. On the other hand, you need to learn about customer needs and expectations to have that in mind while creating technology.

Empathy

It may be unexpected here, but developing empathy and emotional intelligence is crucial to understand people, their motivations, as well as to be able to give them negative feedback in the way they don’t feel criticized.

How to motivate an IT team?

  • Get to know your team. Let team members operate according to their strengths, assign tasks in which they can excel and learn things they enjoy. 
  • Lead by example. Show enthusiasm for a project and set the bar high with your own example.
  • Praise them for their efforts. Let them feel you appreciate their effort and wait to see what other things they can achieve.
  • Accept and promote their ideas. Even the greatest plan should be corrected, and the ones who work closest to the product may have the best ideas. Plus, your team feels appreciated and empowered if you promote their ideas.

Next steps

If you want to dive deeper into the topic of leading a software development team, proceed to the next chapters of this handbook.

Start From Chapter 1

How to Lead an IT Team: 5 Tips

More chapters are coming!

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