Technical leader vs Effective leader

Nowadays, we can observe many people trying to be technical leaders. Many companies provide this path to recognize their employees in technical terms and maintain a shared sense of building an IT career.

I genuinely believe in people’s technical ability to lead teams because I believe in leadership by example, where the leader will get his hands dirty together with his followers. I don’t think that leadership is only about the technical point of view because it means that the relationship between the parties will be just one person knowing more than the others and giving technical solutions instead of working on the team with maturity and self-management.

The employee’s technical development should run naturally in the veins of the company culture. The technical leader is a reference to the team. Therefore it requires some soft skills in order to have an effective impact. Of course, the technical knowledge shouldn’t be put aside and it should be in constant improvement. This way, the leader will have the ability to act as a multiplier, helping to develop his followers.

This article is about my vision of being an effective leader. Also, I’m sharing some experiences from the past few years of hard work. If you want to be a leader, think carefully before starting this journey because there is a lot of hard work to do.

First of all, the leader must know himself, know his strengths, know his weakness, and have his values well defined. This process of acquiring self-knowledge is essential to become a good leader. Otherwise, the leader will hardly succeed.

Imagine a scenario where a leader doesn’t handle well when he receives negative feedback, and his team starts to bring a lot of suggestions for improvements. Probably, he will be uncomfortable with the situation and could have bad behavior saying to the team that they are wrong. On the other hand, if the leader knows his weakness, he could take advantage of the situation and see it as an opportunity to improve himself.

Lack of self-knowledge can lead the leader to failure very quickly because he will make many wrong decisions based on his judgment. Unless he starts to accept his weakness, that will happen for sure.

I bring just one example of many situations that I experienced when I was working with poor leaders. There is a lot of people doing wrong things out there. The main mistake in most cases is when the leader focuses on himself instead of focusing on others’ needs. Note that I spoke the word “need”; this means that the leader must identify what people need and not what they want. These are two totally different things.

To avoid a lack of self-knowledge, here is a shortlist to help you:

  • Ask yourself: ask yourself what is good for you? What do you like? What are your desires? What do you need to improve? What makes you strong and what weakens you?
  • Learn to say no: For fear of being alone or disappointing others, sometimes people do not develop the ability to say no. Being kind is a quality, but don’t let that negate your own desires and hurt you.
  • Explore new experiences: Try to leave the comfort zone and promote the development of self-knowledge. When dealing with something new, you will understand whether you like it or not and how to deal with changes.
  • Open to change of opinion: Opening up to new points of view and changing when necessary does not mean lacking in personality, but it is a sign of maturity.
  • Being offline for a while: Relax, read a good book, do exercise, go out with friends, or watch that series you love. Keep away from checking emails, calls, or work chats.

Leadership is character. Character is the choice we make when deciding to behave one way or the other in everyday situations. When you go beyond the limits of a leader’s character, people’s relationship weakens, and credibility will be over.

When deciding to have a leadership position, the first thing to do is check if the company’s values are similar to your values. Otherwise, this will not work. There is no point in insisting because the company’s values exist due to the people who built them.

Some time ago, I was in a leadership position working for another company; I truly believed the company invested in recognizing its employees. It is a value that I care about very much till now. So, during my career at that company, I had a lot of work to do and had success changing many things inside the company, where I provided a better environment for the people. Consequently, we provided better results for the company. After a long time adjusting things, we finally did! We achieved the company goals! The company received a bonus($) from an important customer at the end of the year. Everyone was super happy because our company was recognized for the work done. So, I immediately thought the company would share a part of the bonus with every person, and it would be a wise approach. Or maybe a celebration party to demonstrate a little recognition for the effort. Or any action would be enough to keep people motivated, and it doesn’t need to be only about money.

To my surprise, the company decided not to share the bonus and didn’t do absolutely anything. I was astonished by this attitude, so it was at this very moment that I realized that the company’s values were different from mine. After some time, I decided to leave this company because I knew there was no way to change it.

Character is the key to effective leadership. Anything else that we read on books, sites, videos, etc., are consequences arising from character. I can mention other items like justice, impartiality, courage, honesty, humanity, integrity, balance, etc. All those are very important too! Don’t get me wrong, but they are not the strongest in terms of creating a strong bond between people; the leader’s character does that at the end of the day.

I’m bringing a few tips for this article that I believe are the most important right now.

Born leader

Listen carefully

Servant leader

The leader must be exacting

Prepare to fail

Promote leadership

Technical people also can be excellent leaders, and sometimes it is necessary to develop new skills.

Leadership must be a composite of behavioral development, soft skills, and technical knowledge. Why should we separate these things when they are complementary? It is day by day that we identify both technical and behavioral improvements. We should avoid creating organizational structures where another sector gives the evaluation and/or feedback instead of being provided by the team leader. It would be a total lack of respect for people who are working daily looking for growth.

I see another structure working very well, for example, HR being a team providing support and training for its leaders to exercise complete and effective leadership. The investment in the leader’s development must be significant, as this is the most efficient way to scale the teams and, consequently, the company.

Originally published at https://inacioklassmann.medium.com on February 25, 2021.

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