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Recently I've been appointed to lead a small software team and as I don't have much management experience (I'm a tech guy) I'm struggling to motivate and lead my team properly.

The thought always occurs to me if they are more effective/better than me then I might get redundant and a team member would be selected to fill my position.

How can I overcome this feeling?

migrated from pm.stackexchange.com Nov 22 '15 at 12:10

This question came from our site for project managers.

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    See it like this: if you are able to help a team to be so effective thet they don't need you anymore you have an invaluable skill. Some companies would definitely pay for that. PS You can't motivate people, don't even try: huffingtonpost.com/dr-carol-morgan/… – mamoo Nov 16 '15 at 12:13
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    This is not a project management question. It should probably be migrated to Workplace SE. – CodeGnome Nov 16 '15 at 16:55
  • Seems like you are the one who is in dire need of motivation! – Dawny33 Nov 22 '15 at 15:07
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This is typical of people who first move into management or lead roles from technical roles. They are afraid of becoming irrelevant, that because they are no longer doing the coding that having other good technical people come through is a threat to your job security.

Actually, this isn't (normally) the case. You have been given a role where your primary outcomes are to produce a complete, well-tested and quality product in within the timeframes. While previously your contribution to this was at a technical level, you need to learn to rescind this in favour of the bigger picture.

These are the first steps to keep in mind when you are transitioning to a more managerial position from technical:

  • Do not be afraid to delegate. This is a big one for ex-technical people, but once you master it you will find that you will stop being so fearful for your relevancy.
  • Manage your staff. Ensure that they have tasks that occupy their time, are sequenced in such a way that you achieve maximum productivity and contribute to the final outcome.
  • Mentor your staff. Clearly you have been highly technical. As you move away from the pure technical roles, it's important that you knowledge transfer what you have learned. Why? Because your role is to deliver a product, not just a module or a piece of code.

I have been through this, many years ago. When I first made the leap I was like you, terrified that I would have these young gun programmers making me look bad. It takes a while for you to realise that having gun programmers makes you look good! They can do the tasks that you set efficiently so you can keep the big picture in mind and deliver the whole solution.

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Mate, If you were given a team leader role, how can someone be a better leader than you? Are there 2 team leaders? You should be concerned to fail as a leader, and, by failing as a leader and not being as good as your peers, you may (or not) be made redundant, like anyone else in the same situation. Would you make redundant a team member that does not perform? Same rules apply.

Be "named" Team Leader doesn't magically transform you in a true leader. People won't follow you because of your role title, but because they respect your skills and, more important, your attitude.

Be supportive, offer help, remove roadblocks, use your skill and influence to get the job done, be friendly, watch Band of Brothers 3 times (to capture the hundreds of leadership lessons shown there), remember you're not anyone else's boss, don't blame your people (people do make mistakes), don't negatively expose your people, provide constructive (and private) feedback, reward and recognise good behaviour and performance. These are just a few things you need to consider, there are thousands more, but it is a good start.

Remember that as a leader you're accountable for the outcomes of your leadership.

If people make you redundant, so be it mate, one door closes, other opens somewhere else. You carry on, recycle the mistakes, collect more experiences and become a better leader.

Cheers

  • I would add that managing a software team is very different from development work. Even on a small team, if you're spending more than half your time doing the same kind of work you did before the role change, then you're not being enough of a manager.The mental shift takes effort, but you need to realize that you're not being measured by the same criteria as other developers, because you're not a developer anymore. I highly recommend this HBR article to help the OP realize the differences between his previous and actual responsibilities: hbr.org/2012/06/how-managers-become-leaders – Pedro Nov 21 '15 at 3:58

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