‘A’-level software development leads aren’t the people who write the best code.
That’s an ‘A’-level senior software developer.
No, the best development lead is someone who can take mediocre or junior developers and have them perform at a level that takes minimal effort, produces easy results and makes everyone look good.
How do you do that?
- Automation: Automate everything you can, whether is through programmatic scripts or documented procedures and processes.
- Documentation: Documentation is king. It’s how developers know those procedures and processes, and how to find solutions to problems that have come before. It’s hated by those who have to write it but loved by those who need it. But it’s not enough just to write – you have to write the documentation well (it’s usability for words).
- Time and effort: It takes both to do the work to automate and document. It takes both to learn the people you need to lead and manage.
- Mentoring: Everyone – everyone – needs at least one mentor to help them learn, understand and grow. If you can mentor those you lead then you’re not a leader.
- Dedication: If you’re not dedicated to the task then you will never get the most out of those you lead.
- Understand, acceptance, patience, empathy and reflection: These are not things you do, but they are things you need within yourself to be a leader. These allow you to grow as a leader and allow you to get inside the mind of those you are leading.
There are no shortcuts to either leadership or the ‘A’-level. If you’re not prepared to commit completely you will never be an ‘A’-level leader.
(The astute may notice something seems missing from this is: anything to do with coding and technical understanding. Those aren’t required by an ‘A’-level software development leader. They are required, but in the same way as reading and writing and breathing are required. Which is to say, they are not even worth mentioning.)