Why don’t you have to become a team leader?

Hi friends. This article is written Georgy Mogelashvili (glamcoder), who works for Lead Developer at Booking.com in Amsterdam and is responsible for the architecture and coordination of several technical teams in the marketing department, and part-time George teaches at OTUS on the course Team lead 2.0.

-Why do you want to become a team leader?
-What why?

Such a dialogue can be heard quite often. Indeed, in fact, the work of the team leader seems honorable, interesting and not particularly dusty. Yes, and pay more. Beauty, not work, right?

In this article I will try to convince you of this and tell 5 reasons why you should NOT become a team leader.

You are the coolest specialist in the team

-If not he, then who?

Indeed, who if not you? You have been in this team since its inception, know all the systems and code thoroughly and can blindly fix any bug. And if someone is to become a team leader in this team, then of course you. So?

Alas, this is not always true. Timlid has completely different tasks that require different skills. Understanding people, the ability to communicate effectively, managing time and a project are just a small part of what you need to do when managing a team. Often this is completely not what the coolest technical specialist of the team is used to doing. And becoming a timlid, such a person experiences the pain of transformation, and does not always cope with it, going to the hospital due to burnout.

You have been appointed on top

– They married me without me.

This item is a consequence / continuation of the previous one, because most often technical professionalism is a criterion for choosing a new team lead for a team. But even if this is not so, and you were chosen according to other criteria, would you like it?

Doing something against your will is an extremely demotivating activity. And if you were given a position that you did not ask for? You worked as a team, everything was great, and now bam – and you are already a leader. There are people (and, alas, I know quite a lot of examples) who became team leaders in this way. And to my question “would you like” they answered “no, I somehow didn’t like it”. But they did not have the spirit to refuse, they suffered, endured. Someone succeeded and they became good leaders. And someone suffered for a long time, much longer than it should, which led to burnout.

If your boss offers you to become a team leader (or even appoints without asking), but you don’t want to? Refuse. This is not a shame, it is not a recognition of one’s weakness or lack of professionalism. On the contrary, it shows that you are a mature person, able to soberly evaluate your strengths and desires.

Doubt that you will suddenly like it? Agree on a trial period. Become a team leader for a quarter or six months, with the prerequisite that you can refuse later without consequences for you and the team. During this time, you will be able to understand whether this is the role, whether you like to be a leader, and if that, refuse. The main thing is to be honest with yourself based on the results of this test and not think that refusal means that you failed. No, you coped – you realized that you do not need it.

You like to control everything


No, actually I’m not talking about an evil genius who wants to enslave the world. This is a much more vital situation, which is described as “I know better than anyone else, so I’ll become the leader and decide for everyone.” The concentration of control in one hand, as well as the unwillingness to let go of this control, is very detrimental for productive teamwork.

Firstly, you become the narrow neck of all processes, passing through all the solutions. If you get sick, leave, do not see the letter – that’s it, the process has stopped.

Secondly, it increases the risk of error. Even if it seems to you that you know everything better, this is often not the case. And to neglect the opinion of team members in this case is stupid and not rational.

Thirdly, it demotivates other team members. If they are not allowed to participate in the project, constantly stand over their souls and engage in micromanagement, then in the end all sensible people will run away, and only obedient performers who are incapable of initiative will remain. And such a team will go downward in a decreasing spiral.

You do not like responsibility

-I’m the boss, then someone else is to blame.

No, alas, this is absolutely not the case. If it seems to you that being a leader, your task is only to give instructions, and how they will be executed there is already a performer’s business, then you are wrong. The boss (a good boss) is always responsible for any misconduct. There is even a saying that the whole team celebrates victories, and the leader personally reports for failures. You must always remember this.

Any misconduct of your subordinate is your responsibility. Because it was your decision to give this person this particular task, or you could not intervene early enough to prevent failure. Even in a situation where you really have nothing to do with it, you should still be the first to get a hat. You should never allow your boss to scold your subordinate directly (but praise, please). He should scold you, and only then you decide how to fix the situation.

Therefore, if you do not want unnecessary responsibility and think that by becoming a team leader you can avoid it, then you are deeply mistaken.

Do you want more money

-Bablo will defeat evil!

This item is the most unobvious and controversial. Do not get me wrong, I like to get paid and the more the better. But I believe that money is not the main motivation in anything. On the contrary, if money is the only reason why you want to become a leader, then you should not become one.

As I wrote above, a leader is a person who takes full responsibility for the successes and failures of a team. You should want to do this work, not because they pay, but because you are a maniac, a fool and a masochist who likes to suffer 🙂 The work of a leader is difficult, because it is not only a huge responsibility to business, but also responsibility to people.

The members of your team are your people in the broad sense of the word. You are their friend, mentor, assistant, they expect support from you. The desire to help them grow, to help them achieve their goals (and at the same time the goals of the company) is the main motivation to become a leader. If this desire is not there, then very soon you will cease to understand why you suffer all this suffering, and money will cease to bring past pleasure.

I purposely paint a gloomy picture so that you seriously think before deciding to become a team leader. But deciding, it will be a great choice!

If you are consciously going to become a leader (or already are), as a bonus I invite you to free lesson under which my colleague he will tell you in detail about the risks that the remote work of IT departments is fraught with, what approaches are needed for the team to work efficiently without the need to monitor them, why the remote also needs a schedule and much more.

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