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What is a good team lead in your opinion?

What is the most important quality for the team lead?

The strongest side of team lead (IMO) is human skills. The main task of team lead is to support morale in the team, to help people, to resolve conflicts.

If team lead doesn't know something it is totally ok to say: "I don't know let's find out together" or "ask Jane she should know this".

(This is my opinion. I'm posting it to hear your opinions in response.)

Tell me about the best team lead you worked with.

Photo by Rob Curran on Unsplash

Top comments (37)

jankapunkt profile image
Jan Küster

The good team leads protected me from more tasks (management never stops to ask for more) and emphasized to finish current ones first.

evanplaice profile image
Evan Plaice • Edited

IMO, this is what makes a good PM

Maintains bi-directional communications and/or necessary barriers between the Stakeholders and Engineers

PMs handle 'people automation'. A PM who doesn't look overly stressed or overwhelmed is either very good or very bad at their job.

ben profile image
Ben Halpern

Good one

buildmotion profile image
Matt Vaughn

Has to lead by example, willing to do first whatever he asks his team to do. Keeps the team focused on the forest, not the trees.

j_at_canosie profile image

I think a good team lead is able context switch quickly without being frustrated at being pulled off what they are currently doing to help others.

As a lead, people will ask you questions, that's part of the job.

support morale in the team

Though I do agree a team lead should help the morale in the team, there's a few ways to do it. It can come from things like (just to name a few):

  • Helping buffer requests to the team from management/business (as mentioned by another comment)
  • Clarify to the team business goals
  • Help solve technical problems.
  • Help the team understand they are not alone in solving problems. We are in it together as a team.

Listening and having compassion is one thing, but I don't think a team lead should be used as a dumping ground for emotional issues (or be used as some form of a psychologist) and I think a good team lead needs to know at which point conflict resolution becomes something that management needs to be involved.

danondso profile image
Dublin Anondson

I think a good team lead is patient and can explain concepts concisely. They're willing to sit down and pair up with you to solve problems, and defend you from work that is over your head when necessary.

I was migrating a set of applications from one server platform to another (FUSE to Tomcat), it was a touchy install and we ended up backing it out. But we stayed up until 1am at the office trying to figure it out and he didn't complain about it once. The amount of patience was profound and I'll never forget it.

stereobooster profile image

It is nice of them to stay with you and help, but I would question the culture in this workplace. The proper solution from my point view would be to say: "Let's go home and continue tomorrow together".

themobiledev profile image
Chris McKay

That's the culture at my workplace. While there are a few developers who stay late, the vast majority of us have no difficulty walking away and going home. We even encourage it.

j_at_canosie profile image
J C • Edited

concepts concisely

Totally agree that this is another key for a tech lead.

I think it depends on the team and company dynamics that govern how much a team lead should 'sit and pair' with a developer.

For me personally, if there's something mission critical, and I am able to help out and stay late, I'll probably do it. Part of a tech lead is responsibly and accountability....but all within reason.

I have also been on teams with some very inexperienced devs that required way too much 'teaching and pairing' that I could do at that given moment. Mentoring/coaching is one thing, but a tech lead isn't a teacher in the literal sense...b/c their teaching is a balance given the overarching goals and progress of the team itself.

danjconn profile image
Dan Conn

Good team leads have a knack of protecting you from external factors, but also making you aware of them so you can take them on board (eventually you may want a role that needs to tackle them head on).

They will want to nurture their team and encourage progress both in skills but also in personal confidence and perhaps personal goals.

They will be able to jump in when things get tough but be the voice of reason and calm in a stressful situation.

They will create an environment of honesty so that people feel comfortable raising their hands to problems and fixes are found instead of people feeling scared to speak up in case they're fired.

bootcode profile image
Robin Palotai

As a tech lead (which might be different from a team lead.. you can't be sure), my main goal was to maintain team productivity.

For example, if I observed we are slowed by regressions, I invested time into improving test infrastructure.

Or, I tried to take dull infrastructure tasks that noone really likes to do.

vanessamhoward1 profile image
Vanessa M. Howard

A person who knows exactly what's going on. I know it sounds obvious but in my life, I've been working with a lot of bubble heads who don't even know what's going on with the product or the team.

You don't have to be a genius to lead the team. Sometimes, you only need to check in frequently to know what your team is doing.

My team leader isn't a know-it-all. He asks a lot of questions about back-end system since he's more about project management. He doesn't know a lot about SEO or coding, but he asks us.

We use a lot of productivity apps to keep the flow going and enhance the team collaboration.

No one can know everything. The key is to keep the communication between team members and learn from each other.

mx profile image
Maxime Moreau • Edited

Kind of agree, but when he's making wrong technical decisions it's bad... Depends on the role of the tech lead in the company, but if he makes tech decision he should to have strong technical skills, otherwise it's becoming a mess.

I've dealt with really good tech lead as a person, but not very good programmer and it's very very frustrating. He doesn't have to be the best, but I think he should at least be strong in tech.

stereobooster profile image

Well if they was good person, for me it means that they are not intimidate to ask help from the team or other people with experience, able to facilitate others work, able to admit limit of their knowledge and let people work. If it wasn't the case - the "lead" part (from "tech lead") is missing.

Thread Thread
mx profile image
Maxime Moreau

Totally agree, the "lead" part was missing, or at least a part of the "lead" part ahah.

gergelyorosz profile image
Gergely Orosz

In my observation, good team leads are able to wear a bit of engineering management, a bit of product management and a bit of a developer hat. The top 3 qualities of great team leads I’ve seen:
1. Prioritises ruthlessly and knows how to say no. Limiting work in progress and finishing what people and the team started are key to a high-performing team. Great team leads do this via clear prioritisation and using the prioritisation principles to tactfully say no to stakeholders.

2. Unblocks the team and team members. When someone on the team is stuck, they notice and help. Either by pairing or more often, by advising or connecting with others, who can help efficiently.

3. Great mentors and leading by example. Team leads are often the one of the most experienced developers on the team. And just like good developers are usually great and approachable mentors, they mentor and coach team members day by day, helping them get better. They also lead by example and pull their weight.

You can really tell who a great team lead is during a challenging project and stressful situations and how they help the team overcome this, staying sane and giving most of the credit to the team members upon success.

guitarino profile image
Kirill Shestakov

I think that a good team lead is a strong coder, who speaks the language of their programmers, and also has a good sense of what's important, what isn't, what the requirements are. A good team lead can reason well, communicate those things to the upper management, and can stand up for their developers and for good ideas.

miku86 profile image
  • understands the holistic person including his/her life outside of work
  • spots the person's strengths & weaknesses and how to fit them to his/her role
  • communicates in adaption to every individual person
  • acts honesty & can adapt to honest words
  • acts patient & empathic
oinak profile image
  1. Ensures team autonomy
    • so that team members can work without bockers
    • and they can take theis decissions without continuous external validation
    • to do this, they need to attain and maintain org's trust by delivering repeteadly
  2. Enhances team mastery
    • good leader teaches what they know
    • acknowledges what they don't and that it is rigth to say it
    • empowers members to learn and improve, not just "push forward"
  3. Exemplifies purpose
    • devs like to feel our work matter (to the org, the users, the world?)
    • showcases team's achivements...
    • aligns team and company goals and priorities.

read more

intricatecloud profile image
Danny Perez

A good team lead has to be able to fire (or at least remove) low performing team members (which can be surprisingly difficult sometimes), and makes sure that team/individual work/achievements are recognized.

Good leads I worked with would run interference whenever POs would request things directly from me, and another good manager even gave me tips for asking for more money during our performance review.

clo profile image
Christopher Lowenthal

As a Lead, I have one major goal of maximizing my teams productivity. And I think that's the goal of most Leads, it's just how you go about it.

The one measure I rely on most is how often I NEED to interact with my team.

I ensure the work being asked of them is clear.

I filter requests and randomization from outside the team.

I provide training and guidance so they're able to do more without me.

And I work with my senior engineers to have them mentor juniors. Fostering team communication and preparing them to take on lead roles.

If my team can function WELL with or without me, then I'm probably doing a good job. And I work very hard at working very little.

giorgosk profile image
Giorgos Kontopoulos 👀

An old thread I know but just bumped into it.

A team lead needs to have the right amount of

  • people skills to be able to manage people
  • technical skills to be able to understand the tech side of things
  • negotation skills to be able to negotiate tasks/time between stakeholders
  • keep calm under pressure and see clear actions forward
  • realist to be able to analyze and possibly discard long running or unecessary tasks

Unfortunately many times TEAM/PM people are just the voice of management pushing down on developers to do more work or more time and satisfy the client and managers.

codegirlbrooke profile image
Brooke Sargent

To me a good team lead is:

  • a mentor
  • a shield for the team (from upper management)
  • a voice for the team (to upper management)

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