In the ever-changing modern world, one thing that remains stable is the growth of the IT sphere. According to a recent Statista report, software revenue is projected to increase to nearly $800 billion by 2026. Such continuous market growth is not the only aspect that attracts potential experts; the other is a vast pool of professional growth opportunities. Given the findings by Hired, new challenges and continuous learning motivate software engineers the most. Higher salaries also fuel the motivation to grow. That is why it is not surprising that many technical experts soon become technical leaders. But what is technical leadership? And what is a technical leader skillset? In the article below, I will shed some light on a technical leadership definition, what skills are most certainly needed in any tech company, and what employers should pay attention to while hiring these specialists.
What is Technical Leadership?
Technical leadership is the ability to supervise a team of technical specialists, set the direction for them, oversee and review the process, provide necessary technical guidance and develop cutting-edge software as a result.
Why Technical Leadership Is Important: 3 Reasons
Experienced tech leaders aspire to create functional teams and attract the best talent. They are good at selecting the necessary software engineers, thus building out the team more effectively. A reputable leader also creates an appealing team image and promotes the company’s corporate culture and values. As a result, candidates are more likely to accept your job offer.
Reliable technical solutions developed and implemented by a tech leader and their team allow the business to stay ahead of the curve. A well-chosen technical direction reflects in the product and attracts more customers, thus leading to higher revenues. In addition, effective tech management ensures that no time is wasted and business goals are achieved with less pressure.
A tech leader’s skills allow them to lead by example, develop a mutual understanding within the team, work alongside them and reach their goals much faster. The importance of team environment is also recognized in burnout-related surveys. For example, a recent Deloitte survey suggests that lack of support or recognition from leadership is one of the biggest drivers of employee burnout. Therefore, the right team environment, sustained by a tech leader, is crucial in keeping your employees passionate and energetic when it comes to their work.
10 Main Technical Leadership Skills
The importance of technical skills in leadership can hardly be overestimated. Technical leaders are considered to be excellent in their field, and a solid technical foundation is crucial for them to take on a leadership role. Day-to-day responsibilities require software architecture knowledge to give the team technical direction and systems testing & coding skills to review the work, ensure it is aligned with technical direction, and debug it if necessary. A set of tech leadership skills can be wider depending on the role, but overall, they should enable a leader to provide technical guidance and break down high-level architecture into manageable tasks for the team.
Business expertise comes second after strong technical skills. A competent leader should consider the current market and design the most effective technical approach for the product & team. Moreover, skillful technical leaders not only react to the changes in progress but are able to see ahead of things and innovate, thus gaining a competitive advantage. Being business-oriented allows a tech leader to contribute to the decision of whether or not the company should scale or pivot.
This particular skill is related to predicting future threats and opportunities, but I would like to emphasize its value in terms of technical leadership, namely that being a strategic thinker is a permanent mode for a technical leader. It is about both seeing the bigger picture and taking in the details that can significantly influence your overall technical direction. In other words, a technical leader should be on the lookout for new ideas and life-long learning opportunities, asking themselves how this or that concept might contribute to their technical strategy.
Clarity In Communication
While it is impossible to disagree that technical skills are important in leadership, a tech leader is also responsible for motivating their team, hence the value of clear and succinct communication. Being an active listener and agreeable communicator is key. Also, to stay on top of their productivity, the team should understand why they are solving the tasks at hand and see how they contribute to the organization in the grand scheme of things. So, the ability to imbue the team with a sense of meaning in what they do completes the list of a technical leader’s skills. Interestingly enough, the CEO of Apple Inc. has the same ideas.
Being a technical leader involves a great deal of management, which entails task prioritization. With Agile methodologies, such as Scrum and Kanban, being on the rise, it is still up to the technical leader to determine which strategy works best with their team. More often than not, technical leaders collaborate with project managers who assist in streamlining the prioritization process, but technical leaders might still need to participate as they are more knowledgeable about task complexity, priority, and completion time.
In recent years, the economy has undergone the influence of far-reaching global crises. The world pandemic alone has made most companies shift to hybrid or remote work models, not to mention the risks taken in adapting the workflow and services. An efficient technical leader should be resilient enough to weather such storms, support their team, and make fast decisions, which leads us to the next point in technical leadership skills.
Decision-making is not to be overlooked as it is one of the main responsibilities of a technical leader, starting from outlining the strategy to overseeing how it is implemented in every little detail. Based on all the data they have, technical leaders often have to make tough decisions fast. Thus, being decisive is a characteristic that maintains an image of a reliable and confident leader.
Ability To Trust In Your Team
Although the technical leader is one of the decision-makers, it is a misconception that they should interfere with each task within the team. Micromanaging can only stress out colleagues and undermine their confidence, so the main goal is to give them room for experimenting while at the same time communicating the main criteria and giving comprehensive feedback on their work.
Working long hours or being under pressure does not usually lead to success. Every professional needs to feel valued and cared for to stay on board and put their best effort into the project. When a technical leader distributes the tasks accordingly and is well aware of their team’s capacity, that becomes feasible. Putting people first is one of the principles that ensure technical success in the long run, which is why it is an integral part of technical leadership.
Consider Alcor BPO Your Trusted Partner
As a business owner, CTO, or recruiter, you may struggle with finding a technical leader, especially if there is no candidate within your team. Nevertheless, you can turn to an IT recruitment service that will help you find a qualified technical leader for your product in several weeks.
We at Alcor specialize in IT recruitment in Poland, Romania, and other Eastern European countries. Our market insights and experience allow us to find specialists with a rare tech stack, helping you cut costs while maintaining high quality (see our software team cost calculator). What is more, we have a proven track record of successfully finding candidates with excellent technical leadership skills. One such case is Sift — a leading IT product company in the US that provides online fraud detection and management services. Among our 20 hires for Sift, Alcor’s recruiters closed their primary management position (Head of R&D) from the second CV! Similarly, our team filled a leading position of the QA direction for Ledger, a software cryptocurrency company from France.
Moreover, we help our clients to employ these specialists by providing HR payroll support, tax processing services, as well as equipment purchases and other operational stuff. If you need help with IT recruitment in Romania, Poland or other countries in the CEE region, don’t hesitate to drop us a line!
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