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Coder team captain and chief solver. Who is a Team Lead and what does he do?

Published in the Random EN group
We continue to make reviews of various professions and specializations in the field of IT, which are somehow related to software development. Coder team captain and chief solver.  Who is a Team Lead and what does he do?  - 1

Not so long ago, we already reviewed the position of a Tech Lead and figured out how it differs from, for example, a Team Lead or a project manager. Therefore, we decided that it would be logical to take a closer look at what a typical Team Lead does in software development, what skills are required for this position, and how a good team lead differs from a bad one. Coder team captain and chief solver.  Who is a Team Lead and what does he do?  - 2

Who is the Team Lead in the development team?

As a rule, in the development team, Team Lead is one of the experienced programmers (although team leads are not always coders), whose duties include not only writing code and other technical work, but also coordinating the activities of the entire team. Most often, developers or QA testers who have good knowledge of both the technological part and the competencies and characteristics of each team member are assigned to the role of a team leader.

How is a Team Lead different from a Tech Lead?

Since these two positions are similar in many ways, and the responsibilities of the specialists occupying them overlap in many respects, let's clarify how they differ from each other.
  • Unlike a Tech Lead, a team lead does not have to have a technical background. This can be either a manager or a former programmer who has long moved away from writing code directly.
  • Team Lead can also manage the team remotely.
  • Team Lead is more focused on budget, plans, and other non-technical aspects of the team's work.
  • More involved in HR work, including vacation planning, salary reviews, etc.

How is a Team Lead different from a Project Manager?

Another position that intersects with the Team Lead and this brings some confusion is the position of the project manager. In short, the difference is that a team leader should be focused primarily on people, that is, a team, while a project manager focuses directly on the project. This is expressed in the fact that the team leader deals with the tasks related to the technical implementation of the project by the development team, while the project manager deals with project issues, such as securing funding, short-term and long-term strategy, legal aspects, and so on. Coder team captain and chief solver.  Who is a Team Lead and what does he do?  - 3

Team Lead Responsibilities

And now let's go through the main responsibilities of the Team Lead of the development team.
  • Monitors compliance with quality standards during development.

    It is the task of the team lead to ensure that the team writes code that meets company standards and delivers a quality product.

  • Monitors priorities.

    Also, the team leader must ensure that the team respects the priorities during work and generally knows what is most important at each specific stage of the production of the software product.

  • Organizes the team.

    As many experienced team leaders note, their task, first of all, is to make the team self-organized, and each participant contributes to the common cause.

  • Responsible for all problems or difficulties in the team.

    It is the team leader who is responsible for all the problems in the development team that may affect the quality of the final product.

  • Sets an example of professionalism and adherence to the best practices in coding.

    Another rather important role of a team leader is to set an example for other team members to follow established principles and best rules in coding.

  • Understands and can implement different processes and methodologies in coding.

    Also, the Team Lead must have an idea and be able to implement various methodologies in the programming team for the benefit of the project, such as Scrum, Kanban, XP, Lean, and so on.

  • Shares responsibility.

    The task of the team leader is to organize the load in such a way that none of the team members is the only one capable of implementing one or another part of the project. For the team to be effective and continue to work, even if one of the specialists is not on site.

  • Maintain communication with clients and/or management.

    Another important task of the team lead is to maintain constant communication with clients or management to make sure that the development team clearly understands the goals and problems of the project from a business point of view.

    Responsible for project work.

    But one of the most important and defining functions of a team lead is to ensure stable and constant work on the project so that the progress is clearly visible and understandable both to the team members themselves and to the management/clients.

  • Monitors discipline in the team.

    And of course, the team leader is obliged to follow discipline: how team members interact with each other, attend meetings, relate to work, etc.

Coder team captain and chief solver.  Who is a Team Lead and what does he do?  - 4

How to be a good Team Lead? Adviсe

Now let's move on to tips on how to be a really good Team Lead from industry experts and experienced developers.
  • Focus on people, not just programming.

    “Very often the position of the team lead is occupied by the most senior and experienced developer. This may be a mistake. If a person has strong skills and technical knowledge, this does not mean that he also knows how to lead people, ” Mike Honeycutt, a technical support specialist at the University of North Carolina, shares his experience on the Quora Q&A website.

    Although the technical aspect of working on a project is also of great importance for a team leader, leadership still plays the most important role in this position, that is, managing people and organizing the work of a team of programmers and other specialists. Therefore, it is important to develop communication and management skills, among other things.

  • Control your ego.

    Do not take this position as the place of the big boss. In fact, it leaves very little room for control. “It was a big surprise for me that the team lead actually has very little power over the project as a whole. For those who enjoy power, this can be hard to understand. The team lead position leaves very little room for ego,” said Chuck Karish, release engineer at Google.

  • Learn to mediate and negotiate.

    “For me, the biggest challenge has always been the need to be an intermediary between the development team and everyone else. Every decision, no matter how simple, can have far-reaching consequences, so it is important to discuss it with all stakeholders,” says Linda Branagan, a former experienced team leader at Construct Internet Design.

  • Discuss the details and agree on everything in advance.

    Since communications are an important part of the team’s functionality, try to discuss as much as possible all aspects of working on a project and agree on everything in advance, advises Mike Scanlin, CEO of the American company Born to Sell and a former team leader in a number of IT companies, among which T/Maker and General Magic.

    “There is nothing worse than working on a project for a year, and after demonstrating the results of your work at the next sprint, hearing from team members something like “What about these features?” or “We forgot that we would need to implement this.” Try to make sure that everything is known and clearly planned before starting work on the project,” he recommends.

  • Do not provoke conflicts, but be prepared for them.

    It is also important to remember that being in the position of a team leader, it is very difficult to please all parties, and therefore conflicts in one form or another are almost inevitable. “Working as a team leader means that at some point you will have to make decisions regarding team members, and these decisions will inevitably cause confrontation. This aspect of work is often unexpected for many team leaders, because not everyone knows and is able to resolve conflicts,” said Steve Morse, Support Developer at Tealeaf Technology.

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Salary and career prospects

And finally, we will traditionally look at the salaries of team leaders and their career prospects. According to the authoritative resource PayScale, in the US, the average salary of a team leader in a programming team is $105,000 per year. Glassdoor gives the US an average of $87,000 a year, with a range of $53,000 a year (minimum) to $130,000 a year. According to the ZipRecruiter website, the average team leader salary in the US is even more modest, at $53,000 per year. Coder team captain and chief solver.  Who is a Team Lead and what does he do?  - 6As for our region. According to the resource , the average salary of a Team Lead in Ukraine is about $3,100 per month. In Russia, according to these data, salaries of team leaders vary on average from 150 thousand rubles. (about $2000) up to 250 thousand rubles. (about $3600). In Belarus, the resource informs us. Team Leads earn on average even a little more than in Ukraine, namely, about $3,550 per month. As for career prospects, they are quite good for team leaders: a successful team leader can grow to a higher level manager, like CTO or even CEO. Another significant advantage of this work is the fact that it is at the intersection of managerial and technical positions, which means that, in addition to developing towards management, a good team leader, if desired, will be able to develop in the technical field, for example, to a software architect.