How To Lead A Successful Software Development Team

From being inclusive to building skills.

As We Are Mobile First’s project load grows, so does the team. This brings new challenges which, for me, have come in the form of making the transition from writing code all day to suddenly being responsible for a set of non-technical tasks. I’m going to be sharing my thoughts on how to lead a successful software development team in the hopes that it may help others acclimatize to their new position. 

 

Find the right balance. 

When the company initially started growing, I was trying to be involved in all of the tasks. 

In trying to keep up with everything, however, I started accumulating a backlog and unintentionally became a blocker as I wasn’t able to accomplish all of the tasks I attempted to set my mind to.

Learning to strike a better balance and understand my responsibilities was the first step to becoming a better leader. 

 

Build on your knowledge & skills.

It’s not enough to just have a technical background. A good software development team lead, in my opinion, needs to keep writing code with the team and build on their existing knowledge. 

How can I help to make decisions and mitigate risks if I’m not familiar with the codebase or keeping up-to-date with new technologies? 

Maintaining my position inside the team helps me to offer better advice and support to my fellow team members and can also help massively when creating new approaches. 

 

Share decision making. 

Despite being the team lead, I don’t believe that I should make all of the decisions. 

I believe in giving team members autonomy and supporting them in their ideas and contributions so that they can have an impact both inside and outside of the team.

I do, however, accept that team members are waiting for me to make some decisions from time to time. Instead of dictating what needs to be done, however, I always try to assess the potential outcomes and consider the needs of each of my team members. 

It’s a work in progress but I try my best.

 

Facilitate solutions.

Similarly, I try to encourage my team members to come up with solutions by facilitating an environment that is open to a wealth of ideas and approaches. 

This makes us stronger as a team as it means we’re all able to take ownership of tasks and particular areas which in turn promotes growth. 

It’s always important to remember that your words shouldn’t be taken as gospel – even if you do have a more senior role. I’m fallible and just like everyone else I sometimes need help finding solutions. 

That’s why I believe in non-hierarchical organisations where everyone’s voice is heard and considered and it’s something I feel that we do well.

 

Work on your mood. 

I have spent a good amount of time thinking about how mood and overall optimism influences you and those around you. 

I’m only human, however, and I accept that it can sometimes be more difficult to maintain a positive outlook. It’s important to be aware of your mood and actively work on improving it so that the workplace can be as happy and healthy as possible. 

During pull requests, for example, these days I try to leave helpful comments and be less pedantic. This can be challenging at times but it’s something that I’m working on.

I keep learning and improving and that’s what matters. 

 

Be inclusive and listen. 

We started holding one-to-one meetings with each team member in order to give them time and space to reflect upon their work and share whatever they may need to. These meetings bring things to light that otherwise wouldn’t have been expressed, whether that’s due to time constraints or people’s personalities.

We invite team members to share their personal vision which in turn helps to shape the company’s vision. 

This makes me be a better software development lead because it helps me to understand every single one of my team members on an individual level. 

 

In conclusion…

Here at We Are Mobile First, we are focused on striking the perfect balance between the way we work as individual contributors and the way we work as a team. 

As we rapidly expand, we continue to adapt and improve whilst maintaining our focus on transforming businesses in a mobile-first world. 

In my role as a software development team lead, I’m deeply encouraged and inspired by the progress we’re consistently making. 

 

____

Are you a team lead? What advice do you have for fellow team leads? If not, what lessons have you learned from your very own? Tweet us and we’ll be sure to retweet the responses!

We Are Mobile First is a digital product agency based in Barcelona helping to transform businesses in a mobile-first world. Follow us on Twitter, LinkedIn and Medium to be notified of our future posts and stay up-to-date with our company news. We share weekly content on everything from Carthage to Apple Combine.