What it means to be a leader and how I can become a better one is something that has been on my mind the past year. Probably more than a lot of the technical challenges of programming. This wouldn't have been something on my mind in the past because I have worked at smaller companies, but my current job has stretched me in that way.
I feel like there are different ways to lead, and in some ways you need multiple leaders in different areas to make a successful team.
So how do I lead?
I feel like one of my greatest strengths is as a mentor. I'm not sure exactly what it is but I feel like my personality lends itself to this. I like to think I'm approachable and do not act in a condescending way. I am super self-aware of this because it is pretty prevalent in the tech industry and I choose to be different.
I also feel like I have a way of reading people and explaining concepts in a way that suits them at the moment. I try to eliminate any fluff or noise and give them just enough so they get unstuck, learn something, along with having new things to explore. This works at any skill level whether a junior or senior.
Two things that come to my mind as things I need to improve are organization, and speaking up more when I feel that things could be done in a better way.
Organization is something I basically do on an as needed basis. Keeping JIRA updated, and breaking things into tasks and planning are sometimes thrown by the wayside to just get in the code and figure things out. There is the fine line between planning two much at the start, and not doing enough planning.
Speaking up more is something I think I've improved on but it's still not where I would like to be. I think this is one of those times where your greatest strength is also your greatest weakness. For the same reason I'm approachable, I am simultaneously passive and don't want to disagree with anyone.
No one really tells you how hard being a leader is. You might find it easy to sit back and criticize the people leading you. I would highly suggest you bring up your criticisms as that is really the only way someone can improve. I know its hard, and I struggle with the same thing.
On the flip side, one of the things I've come to realize is that I don't have to be given a title of "Lead" to be a leader on my team. Leading is a part of your job. Yes even you can take the initiative and lead.
Some resources I've found useful in becoming a good leader are: