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2020-07-25

What a Good Team Lead Does and Doesn’t Do

This is a chapter from Team Lead 101: Manage and Grow Engineering Teams in Small Startups book. Learn more here.


A team lead’s main concerns are team performance, interactions with other teams, and delivering projects on time.

Team leads should not be a bottleneck. You shouldn’t assign the most important and/or most complex tasks to yourself. You shouldn't tie all processes to yourself.

Trust and acceptance of failures is the best way to eliminate yourself as a bottleneck. You should allow teammates to make mistakes, but it's also important to be in control of how crucial mistakes will be.

As a team lead, you should trust your teammates and give them challenging and meaningful tasks. They need to feel their importance. By challenging them, you create growth opportunities. No one wants to be bored with tedious tasks all the time.

Look for a balance. Tasks that are too challenging can make the programmer question their confidence. Too many challenges will put them under unhealthy constant stress.

With self-doubts and stress, a member of your team will work on their tasks exponentially slower than they could with confidence and a good mood.

You can offer help when you notice that your teammate is struggling. Watch for signs from their mood. The simple question "How are things going?" is a tool to spot the problems.

By listening to your colleagues about their troubles and obstacles, you help them relieve their tension and regain their feeling of confidence. And if you can offer advice on how to solve the problem, that’s even better!

Pairing up with a colleague in trouble is another way to unblock the project.

By not burdening yourself with important projects with tight deadlines, you create time. Use this time to:

A good team lead does the following:


This is a chapter from Team Lead 101: Manage and Grow Engineering Teams in Small Startups book. Learn more here.