Are you a tech enthusiast with leadership ambitions? Whether you're an existing team leader or aspiring to lead, this blog is for you. The writer was once in your shoes, questioning her leadership abilities. The fear of failure loomed large, but the desire to emulate admired leaders was stronger. The opportunity was seized, focusing on doing things right, nurturing the team, and fostering growth.

This article will help you become an effective technical leader, complete with insights on challenges and strategies to overcome them. By following them, you can definitely be a great technical leader. 

What is Technical Leadership?

Technical Leadership is the art of leading, inspiring, motivating, and steering a team of technical experts to accomplish a common objective. This type of leadership merges the expertise of the technical skill set with the ability to lead and manage people, projects, and resources. 

Technical Leaders conduct and coordinate activities with a focus on developing and implementing solutions to business needs. They often collaborate and manage a team of specialists or subject matter experts to meet organizational goals, promote excellence and create a positive work culture. They must also have strong problem-solving and communication skills to enable them to work successfully with technical teams.

More and more companies are looking for tech-savvy leaders who can leverage the power of technology to improve the business. 

Why Technical Leadership Is Important in the Modern Workspace?

There are many reasons why technical leadership is important in the modern workspace. 

  • It helps to bridge the gap between technology and the business
  • It ensures the delivery of the high-quality products
  • It fosters innovation
  • It helps in leading teams efficiently
  • It empowers people
  • It boosts employee morale
  • It creates a culture of continuous learning and improvement 
  • It aids in the collaboration between teams as well as between technology departments

Ultimately, technical leadership is important in the modern workspace to keep organizations agile, competitive, and at the forefront of innovation. 

How to become a Strong Technical Leader 

Being a technical leader requires a broad understanding of technology and its applications in the real world. Not only that, but let's go over the steps to become a technical leader in greater depth.

Roadmap to become Technical leader

Develop a strong technical foundation

As a Technical leader, you will need to be able to articulate the technology stack and its pros and cons to stakeholders and technical teams. You need to have a strong technical foundation to be able to do that. Develop a holistic understanding of technology to make informed decisions. You should be keen on exploring the different technologies and platforms to suggest the best solutions for your team. You need to understand the business goals and work towards them. 

Connect with Your Team

Once you sound technically strong, your team will listen to you. You need to connect with the team regularly to understand their needs and concerns.

It's about taking efforts to connect with each of them. Make sure to remember the details. Always ask for feedback and take it constructively. Educate the team about the importance of taking breaks and suggest they plan the vacations earlier to avoid last-minute rush. Schedule monthly 1:1 meetings, this might sound cliche and most of us are already doing this, but does it hold any value? I emphasize meaningful conversations with your team. These meetings are my favorite ones.

Enhance the delivery

Delivery is a key business unit and the best practices to make the delivery process more effective are to ensure that the team understands the value of automation. If you start automating the feasible one, you get plenty of time to focus on the important things that require critical thinking, deeper research, and analysis. As a leader, you know the current workload of your team. This helps you to manage and scatter the work equally among the team leaving no one overloaded. 

To excel in the current process, the team needs certain skills and knowledge. As a Leader, you should be providing them necessary training and resources. If they are doing mundane work, they might get bored easily. So introduce new challenges and activities to keep them engaged.

Most importantly, don’t forget to celebrate the small and big wins.

Focus on Mental health

People are still not comfortable opening up about the mental struggles they face. As a Leader, you need to carry empathy and educate the team that we are all vulnerable and need help. Do you know that many countries have certain regulations and measures to prioritize the mental health of employees? One such measure is to have a mandatory vacation once a year. The purpose of a vacation is to encourage employees to take a break from their daily routine and focus on themselves. It helps them to regain their productivity and focus. 

Remote work is becoming more popular and many organizations are allowing their employees to work remotely. The main advantage of remote working is that you can save on office space and other infrastructure. And employees could save hours of commuting time and can plan their work accordingly which could also help them to improve their work-life balance. 

So check the employee preferences and allow them to work flexible hours. If your team is not meeting frequently, plan “Team Bonding” or “Team Integration” activities for at least a quarter to engage in open conversation and foster healthy team culture. Thus you can build a safe circle for your team to open up. Overall, you as a Leader should be a great listener. Don’t just “Listen to Reply”, you should “Listen to Understand”. 

Build a culture of innovation and learning

As a strong technical leader, you should encourage your team to invest time in upskilling and learning. Create a culture of continuous learning and innovation. You can foster creativity and experimentation in your team by giving them freedom. When the team is free to explore, they will come up with new ideas and solutions to the problems. When you as a leader build a culture of experimentation, you are helping your team to learn and grow and they will be motivated to contribute to the company's goals. You can leverage the strengths of each team member and get the best out of them.

Eliminate the bad stuff

Yes, you read it right. It’s always not about adding this and that. For a holistic approach, we need to remove certain bad practices.

Lack of transparency - If there is a lack of transparency, the team members will not be able to collaborate effectively. It’s good to have transparent communication. 

Lack of motivation/appreciation - When you don't acknowledge the contributions of your team members, they won't be motivated to work harder and give their best.

Working in silos - If the team members work in silos and don't collaborate, they will not be able to achieve the objectives. Most of the efforts and time go in vain. 

Bias - If you're biased, you won't be able to make decisions objectively.

Extended working hours - If you're working beyond your working hours, you will not be able to give your 100% to the work. As a leader, you will expect your team to slog for hours which will leave them frustrated and exhausted. 

Unhappy workplace - Finally, all these bad factors will lead to a negative impact and create an unhappy workplace. 

Once you evolve as a Strong Technical Leader

When you get an opportunity to lead a team, you might be worried about what's going to happen next. You can imagine a day of uncertainty and nervousness. Once you create your vision and strategy, you can enjoy the benefits. Being a strong technical leader not only helps you succeed but also makes your team and organization successful.

Developing a Technical Vision and Strategy

When you are becoming a strong technical leader, you can develop a technical vision and strategy for your project. It will help you to build a clear and strategic path for your project. Here are some tips for you to develop a technical vision and strategy: 

1. Ensure that the technical vision and strategy are aligned with the company goals

2. Establish clear objectives and develop measurable KPIs for each project

3. Utilize the industry's best practices and promote the best use of technology

4. Involve stakeholders to ensure  everyone is on the same page

5. Utilize agility and adaptability to ensure the strategy can accommodate changes quickly

6. Develop meaningful metrics to track progress and quickly identify success and failure

7. Focus on continuous improvement and innovation in technology

8. Develop a culture of accountability and collaboration

9. Use data or numbers to make decisions and prioritize tasks

10. Enable scalability and flexibility to meet ever-changing customer needs

Lead by Example

When you are a strong leader, you can easily make others follow in your footsteps. Not just because you have the authority, it’s because of your action, skills, and attitude. When you perform well, you motivate your team to perform well. Most of the time, your actions speak louder than your words. 

By leading as an example, your team will be able to see what great technical achievements look like and they will be motivated to strive for the same goals. 

Encourage Innovation

By creating an environment that encourages and facilitates innovation, as a strong technical leader you can help teams find new solutions to the existing problems. This can be helpful for the teams, other cross-functional teams, and the organization. Ultimately, it will help the organization be more successful and effective. 

Effective Decision-Making

As a technical leader, you should have a strong problem-solving mindset. You should be able to quickly identify and troubleshoot any technical issues that arise. Because you’re so familiar with the technical aspects of the project, you won’t need to spend as much time researching solutions or weighing different possibilities. This will enable the project to move faster and ensure it is completed promptly. This will enable you to quickly resolve any problems and ensure the team continues to work efficiently. You should be able to make sure decisions quickly when it comes to technical issues.

Foster Mentorship

Technical leaders are usually seen as visionaries who can inspire everyone on the team. You will be able to set new standards for the team to reach and help them to get there. 

By providing technical guidance and mentoring, strong technical leaders can ensure that the team produces higher-quality work. Strong technical leaders can help their teams become more efficient. They can teach effective methods of problem-solving, guide technical decision-making, and ensure that everyone is on the same page. This increases the overall team productivity. 

Rise to Challenges

Every day is not the same. It always has its ups and downs. We have to face challenges and hurdles at every step of our life. As a Technical leader, we have to face these challenges and hurdles in our day to day life. We can expect both technical and people related challenges. 

 Increased Employee Retention

A strong technical leader will build a team that is cohesive and a team that wants to stay together and be successful. This will lead to improved employee retention and reduced turnover. When the employee feels like the company is supportive, they will stay with the company longer. They will feel like they are part of a team and that they have a voice in the company.

Challenges in Technical Leadership

Like many other areas, being a technical leader can be challenging as well. It doesn’t sound easy the way we could imagine. Nothing comes easy, right? We can expect some bumpy roads ahead, but we can overcome the challenges below if we follow the above sections. 

  • Building and maintaining relationships
  • Communicating technical concepts to a non-technical audience
  • Adapting to changing technology
  • Balancing the needs of the team with the needs of the organization
  • Resolving conflict
  • Prioritization of the tasks
  • Handling Remote teams
  • Leading without Authority

Becoming a Wholehearted Technical Leader:

It all starts with you!

You are capable of becoming a wholehearted technical leader if you believe in yourself. You can do it. If you want to be a wholehearted technical leader, you must be committed to your goal.

By developing a combination of technical and business acumen, communication skills, and building strong relationships you too can become a technical leader that your team loves to work with and your organization can depend on.

Being a great technical leader is a journey, not a destination. Good Luck!!