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Tech Career Insights: Best Practices in Leadership from Experienced Tech Leaders
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Best Practices in Leadership from Experienced Tech Leaders

11 May 2023, by Chris Booth

Good leadership is crucial for happy, productive teams, but can take a while to achieve when leadership is a new role for you. If you’ve recently made the move from software developer to a management role, or you just want to sharpen your management skills, here’s some great advice from other tech leaders to get you set up well.


How to Overcome Common Challenges When Transitioning from Developer to Engineering Manager

Gregory Witek from Booking.com unpacks the challenges he faced when moving from being a developer to an engineering manager. From spending less time on coding to organising his schedule and navigating different relationships. Gregory shares the lessons he learned to overcome these challenges and become a successful engineering manager.

He helps navigate the tricky mind- and work shift that happens when stepping into a role that is more about managing people than software.

From Developer to Manager: Lessons Learned about Leadership

Building high-performing teams is one of the core tasks for an engineering manager. In this video, Raul Herbster from Spotify and Laura Manzur from OfferZen talk about what it’s like moving away from software development to management and they outline a framework for first-time managers on how to develop the best possible engineering team.

The focus on team-building makes this a great starting point for new managers who need to create trust and motivation within their teams.

The Secret Sauce of Technical Leadership

We all love a good recipe and adding a secret sauce to your leadership style can provide extra oomph. Simon van Dyk of Platform45 takes you through the key characteristics of technical leadership, developed through his chats with technical leads he admires.

With short, powerful ingredients for management, this is a must-read for those wanting to strike the balance between caring about your product and your team.

What a Senior Engineering Manager Focused on to Lead his Brand New Team Remotely

Remote work has become part of our lives. and with 9 out of 10 developers in both South Africa and the Netherlands having the option to work from home, it’s become critical that engineering managers know how to build better remote teams.

In this OfferZen podcast, Amos Haviv talks about joining 3D Hubs as a Senior Engineering Manager during lockdown. He gives insights into what it was like building relationships with a team that he could not meet face-to-face.

Why Continuously Asking Questions Is a Superpower for Tech Leadership

“The man who asks a question is a fool for a minute, the man who does not ask is a fool for life.” This quote from Confucius almost perfectly captures the gist of Aiden Quin’s experience as a non-tech founder at the tech startup ServiceMyCard.co.za.

Aiden’s advice on asking questions isn’t just about not looking like a fool in the long term. It also shows how asking questions is key to understanding technical problems and processes, leading a team from a distance, and connecting with developers.

By talking about the when, where and how to ask questions, Aiden gives insight into how letting go of ego and asking even the most foolish of questions can position you as a great leader.

Advice on Tech Leadership and Managing Focus from a Team Lead at WeTransfer

When you’re the leader of a big team running multiple projects, you can get pulled in many different directions - and staying focused can become a challenge. In this podcast, Antoine van der Lee, Team Lead and iOS Dev at WeTransfer, talks about how he maintains focus while leading a team of developers.

From learning how to delegate to advice on saying ‘no’, Antoine gives honest answers about the lessons he’s learnt through his leadership experiences, including the biggest piece of advice: being honest and kind to yourself.

This podcast is great for first-time leaders of developers as it answers all the questions asked by real developers about leadership and focus.

Things You Can Do to Keep Tech Teams Happier and More Motivated

A happy team is a motivated team, and this article from Naked Insurance Agile Coach Emily Smith covers the best ways to support the people you work with and make sure that you are building the best team possible. Emily focuses on three core aspects of support that she believes creates higher morale, better motivation and resilience to stress and burnout. These include understanding people on a personal level, encouraging engagement and transparency, and deliberately staying away from hierarchies within a team.

What really makes this article stand out (aside from the fact that you can give your eyes a rest by listening to the article) is the fact that it focuses on leading with people at the forefront.

How to Communicate Considerately with Junior Developers

Leaders are not just those with ‘manager’ in their title. A leader can be anyone who takes the time to support their fellow team members - especially those with less experience or knowledge. Learning to treat team members with respect and reminding ourselves that we all had to start somewhere is a great perspective to have as a leader.

In this article, senior full stack developer Jethro Muller shows us the best ways to communicate with junior developers to make sure that they are welcome and supported within the team.

If you’re looking for more resources to help you through your leadership journey, then check out these book recommendations from some top tech leaders.

There are so many different types of leadership and management styles, and the one you choose depends on you and the type of leader you want to be. Throughout these articles, there’s a common golden thread: treat your team (and yourself) as humans. Find the best way to connect with your team, and give them the support that they need to become happy, motivated, and productive.

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