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I have been at a company for a little over 2 years now. I am still not quite confident in terms of the processes followed by the company in different situations. I know what our team specifically does, but not outside of my own team.

My manager has confirmed with me that we should move towards setting goals towards a team lead role now. And is very serious about it.

However I do have my doubts if I will turn out to be a good team lead or not. I am excited about the opportunity and my managers support really does make me feel encouraged, but sometimes I think what if I cant live up to other peoples expectations of what a team lead should be, what qualities he should imbibe? What if I cant pull it off?

Should I share these insecurities with my manager? And how do I deal with systematically working towards building a good credibility that the team will appreciate once I am on board as team lead?

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To build good credibility:

  • First earn the team's respect as one of their peers
  • Be consistent in how you approach problems and treat your peers
  • Have a firm grasp of your domain and processes
  • Put the needs of the team ahead of yours
  • Be a problem solver
  • Make decisions in a timely manner
  • Allow everyone to express their thoughts

There are many other aspects to being an effective leader, but I find the above to be the most important.

  • Point 4 is very important, I have seen too many leads that roadblock their whole team because they are too busy doing the fun tasks to help them with what they are stuck on or can't do for reasons of permissions) – HLGEM Aug 30 '16 at 19:27
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It sounds like your manager is working with you on this. That's good. You won't have to figure this out on your own.

Your best tools are introspection and openness to learning. You have doubts; that's normal. Spend some time thinking about what specifically you have doubts about. It sounds like you might have some doubts abut processes beyond your own immediate group, or how your group interacts with others.

While you can approach your boss with something vague like "I'd like to do that; what do you think I need to learn better first?", it would be better if you showed that you've put some thought into it too. Compare that (from your boss's point of view) with something like the following:

I'm glad that we're moving toward a team-lead role for me. I've read the job description and I think I'm doing ok on A and B, but it sounds like I need to do more C and D. What do you think? What else should I be working on now in order to get ready for this role?

Your boss has mentioned setting some goals, so you already have context for this conversation.

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Use your manager as a resource. As part of the goal setting see what he thinks you do well and what areas you need work.

Get feedback on current policies and ask why certain decisions were made. The goal is for your learning, so don't give the impression you question what has been done. Work through some alternatives to learn why they may not have been the best choice.

Depending on how your company/team operates, you may have to do some unpleasant things:

  1. Discipline people or even fire them. Some people just can't do it.
  2. Be the tie-breaker in technical decisions. Only one side will like your choice. You'll really find out who your friends are in these situations.
  3. Bring bad news to the team and possibly have to support those decisions even if you don't like them either. Can't have team leaders going around questioning the company. Team leads don't get to vent in front of everyone as much.
  4. Take responsibility for other people's failures. It's your job to make sure others do theirs. This can be frustrating for some people.

You've never been a team lead, so these feelings are normal especially if you don't know what the job requires. Be confident that you are able to learn new things and are sincere in wanting to do a good job.

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Just know everything about the system. The best team leads and managers are just the people who know everything. Certainly the best team leads I've worked with just knew everything. I think this is an oft understated quality and it's certainly the one you should be striving for.

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    I have to say that certainly helps as a starting place (certainly the worst team leads are the ones with no clue about their own system), but more than knowing the system, learn how to guide other people to know the system as well rather them relying on your knowledge. So instead of simply doing the task, ask them leading questions based on your knowledge of the system that get them to understanding the system in the same way you do. – HLGEM Aug 30 '16 at 19:25

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