Development Team Leadership : First Steps

You’ve just been made Team Lead, feeling out of your depth, and wondering what you’ve let yourself in for…

Having recently been through this ordeal (just kidding,) experience, myself, I’d like to share some advice that I’ve come to stand by.

 Letting Go

At some point you will come to the realisation that you can’t do everything, my advice would be to come to that realisation quickly!

Chances are you’ll have been a developer, doing whatever tasks are assigned to you, maybe chewing through change requests, etc. you now need to start looking at this from another angle, dividing work up and assigning tasks.  It’s very easy to fall into the trap of assigning yourself the same number of tasks that you would have expected yourself to be able to get through in a week, it won’t happen, don’t even try.


You will:

  • spend a lot more time looking ahead;
  • spend a lot more time troubleshooting, bringing team mates up to speed, giving advice;
  • spend a lot more time interrogating requirements to make them fit for implementation;
  • spend a lot more time talking and less time typing.

These aren’t a bad thing.  Think about the amount of time typing the solution vs. the amount of time that generally gets spent thinking of the solution in the first place, a lot more of this is happening in a distributed manner, the knock on effect is that when you do get behind the keyboard your time is a lot more focussed.

Nobody expects you to churn out the same amount of code.

Confidence – You can do it.

The bottom line is that you are capable of the role.  You’ll most likely have been selected because you have :

  • grown into the position;
  • your team want you in that position, because they’ve seen your ability to do it;
  • shown an affinity for it on another team which got you noticed;
  • or you’re actually already doing it (or most of) and it’s being formalised.

…maybe all of the above, and on that basis those around you will have confidence in you.

Lead By Example

This one’s a cliché but it’s alarmingly true all the same.

E.g. if…

  • you aren’t leaving comments in your version control system…
  • you aren’t keeping the build green and writing unit tests…
  • you aren’t keeping whatever time tracking system your team uses up to date…

…no one else will.

“Successful people breed success.” – Phil Crosby

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