5 Tips on Becoming a Better Tech Leader

by | Feb 28, 2024

When speaking to tech leaders about their recruiting challenges, more and more mention that attracting the right type of talent is not their biggest issue right now, it is retention.

I ran a quick survey on Linkedin asking my connections what is the decisive factor when choosing a new job. 54% still opted for a higher salary over benefits, flexible work arrangements, or a clear career path. It’s obvious that offering the right type of package will attract top tech specialists to work for you but the question is what will make them stay?

Imagine, you spend months hiring a great software developer, they learn everything about your product and processes, work closely with the management, and make many improvements to your product. You invest time and money in training, and they leave your team after a couple of months, only because someone offered them a little bit higher salary. If it becomes a pattern the financial consequences can be quite significant.

For the last eight years, Magic Mondayz has scaled dozens of tech teams and what stands out to me is that people tend to stay longer with companies that invest in leadership.  

Being a top specialist in your field might attract the talent to work with you but strong leadership and culture that teams identify with, are the main factors that contribute to better employee retention.

Unfortunately, not everyone has sufficient knowledge of how to lead teams. Some professionals might get promoted based on their technical skills and then find themselves out of depth because leadership is nothing like tech. These days tech leaders not only need to be experts in their field of expertise but also be able to facilitate, motivate, organize workflows, provide support, innovate, and deal with constant change, the complexity of processes, and cybersecurity issues. The list is long…  

We have listed 5 tips that can help IT experts on the journey to becoming exceptional tech leaders.

Work with mentors 

Having mentors to consult your thoughts and ideas daily can be extremely valuable. Many companies invest in internal mentoring programs which can add value when developing leadership skills. Having someone who has “been there and done that” might help to avoid common mistakes and shed a light on things that otherwise might be overlooked. When you intentionally dedicate time to look at the bigger picture and work with mentors, you can recognize challenges faster and act on them.

Embrace change 

It is very unlikely you will be seen as an influential leader if you wouldn’t be open to change. As we are all well aware technology is evolving all the time and if we don’t acknowledge that, we might only be left behind.

The leaders must keep looking at new tools and frameworks that help teams stay productive and engaged. 

Leaders who can adopt new technology are better equipped to build a culture of collaboration and transparency. If on top of that, they learn how to utilize artificial intelligence and keep building automated processed, they might win more time to focus on improving the product. 

Be purposeful about culture

A sense of community can have a huge impact on productivity, efficiency and employee engagement. A big part of building the workplace culture is about building strong connections within the teams. Building a great working culture requires attention to detail and the purposeful act of outreach and intentional listening. The need for purposeful culture becomes increasingly evident in the context of productivity and remote working, and managing teams that aren’t always (or ever) present in the same room. 

One of the best ways to build a strong work culture is to model it consciously. Every day you should try to step into the expectations that you’ve set out for the team and embody them. Send the message first to check-in. Ask if things that you knew bothered your team member last week have been resolved. Small acts like these will always matter more to your team than knowing the latest technical innovations. Little things add up and create the personal connections that you need, and that you want to see across your teams. 

Trust your team

Richard Branson once said that it’s crucial to “Train people well enough so they can leave. Treat them well enough so they don’t want to.” Giving your team members room to grow and learn from their own mistakes is extremely important when creating a strong culture.

Many leaders still think that they will do things faster themselves but it’s not about the pace. You should be a leader who can convey the vision and mission to the team but at the same time, forgets about micromanagement and trusts them with the execution of the goals.  

When your team sees that you trust them, they will do their best not to disappoint you. They must know you will have their back and be understanding even when mistakes occur.

This will massively improve your relationship with them and help you to be considered an influential technical leader.

Keep your tech skills fresh 

Finally, you should of course not forget about keeping your tech skills fresh. I mentioned above that tech skills are something that many tech leaders are hired for but of course, keeping up with the latest tech can only position you as an expert in the eyes of your team members. 

There are countless ways how you can stay ahead of the game. Accelerators can help you find out about the latest industry trends and showcase your ideas. You can also attend courses or use modern e-learning platforms to upskill in bite-sized pieces. On top of that, reading, listening to podcasts, and watching videos can also help you stay on top of what’s important. It also gives you a sense of perspective so when you do want to dive deeper into a topic you can be more intentional about it. 

It’s definitely worth considering to not completely stepping out from your coding game. 

It doesn’t necessarily mean you have to stay in a delivery mindset for a long period, but it’s good to remind yourself of what it’s like and see what challenges your engineers are facing daily to understand them better.

The best technical leaders have a learning mindset. You need to be curious and open to excel in this type of position. 

If you keep learning and implementing the latest technologies in your organization your team members will follow and you will end up having a more inspired and at the same time educated team. Win-win :)

Written By Joanna

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