Danilo’s career path has developed very quickly and successfully. During his master studies, he found a job as a full-stack developer in one company, and soon after, he joined the Emakina.RS team.
So far, Danilo has worked on a couple of projects with our colleagues from Amsterdam, and after just one year, he got promoted to the position of a tech lead.
I was curious to find out what he has learned from his leadership experience and how he likes his new team lead role.
Maja: You became a team lead recently. Has your job changed, when compared to your previous position as a tech lead?
Danilo: In our company, technical leads are in charge of running teams and projects, having communication with clients and working on product development. This is a job description which is more focused on projects, with the ultimate goal to improve clients’ products.
On the other hand, a team lead is specifically in charge of managing people in the team, their career path, job satisfaction, both on the project and in the team. Our colleagues who belong to the team which we lead do not have to be a part of the teams that work on projects, which is currently my case.
My job has changed, because, considering the fact that we do not work together on the same project, and that we do not have everyday communication, it is necessary that my team and I compensate that with regular monthly, and even more frequent meetings, if needed, where we discuss all the things which I have mentioned above, plan next steps, and keep track of their progress.
Maja: How do you improve your leadership skills and programming knowledge?
Danilo: I improve the knowledge I have gained as a developer mostly by listening to online courses, which are sometimes directly connected to technologies which I work with, and often to frameworks which we still do not use on the projects inside the company.
I expand my leadership skills mainly by reading books about leadership, management, organisation and leading people. There are different books on these topics and each of them can help you learn something useful and applicable in everyday work.
Apart from that, during the last few years, we’ve had a chance to listen to many high-quality podcasts that present useful stories about leadership across industries.
Maja: Have you faced some challenges and could you share them with us?
Danilo: We haven’t had a dedicated business analyst in our team for some time, but we still made a huge effort to cover all of their obligations so that neither the development team nor the client feel that change.
I think that people who run the team, especially teams which offer services to clients, need to enable people in their teams to do their jobs without being distracted, and without thinking about how to solve and present problems to the clients.
Maja: What are three soft skills each leader should have?
Danilo: Empathy, above all. If you cannot put yourself in the shoes of the people you lead, and consider their problems or situations from their own perspective, you will not be able to understand their side of the story, and therefore, you will not be able to make the right decision everyone would approve of. It is not required that the leader has previously done the same job as his/her colleagues, but, in that case, he or she should at least have experience in leadership in some other industry or department.
Communication is the second most important skill a leader should have. Good communication both with clients and the team is critical for effective leadership.
The third one is a problem-solving skill, understanding and finding an adequate solution to the specific problem.
Maja: What advice would you give to tech leads, team leads, and your younger self?
Danilo: If you want to be a leader, the best way is to spend some time in this role — in some real-life situation. All of the theoretical knowledge can help, but, until you find yourself in the situation where you need to solve a certain problem, and that colleagues depend on you in this situation, you will not know what it feels like to be a leader and you will not know whether that suits your personality or not. I would give the same advice to myself as well. Theoretical knowledge about leadership is one thing, and the implementation of that knowledge in everyday life, and real-life business situations is a completely different thing.