How to start seeing yourself as a tech leader (No. 64)

To see yourself as a tech leader, step into tech lead moments and watch what happens!

Tech leads,

You’re probably wondering about this tech lead role and how it is that you’re supposed to lead. What are you supposed to be doing? How are you supposed to do it? What’s the right thing to say? If X happens, what Y action should I take? 

What if I tell you those are all interesting questions, but I think the only reliable answer is that you need to start seeing yourself as a tech leader. Once you see yourself as a leader, answers to those questions will come more easily, naturally, and authentically than any training or checklist could possibly prepare you for. 

But how?

How do you begin to see yourself as a leader?

How do you begin to see yourself as a leader? That’s the question we’re going to focus on this week.

Don’t you need some training in leadership or self-reflection before you can start to see yourself this way?

In a word, no.

Instead of relying on our analytical, professional habits and trying to think our way into leadership, the better approach is to plunge into the new behaviors and acts of leadership. I call them “leadership moments.” 

Step into them tech leads!

When you take the plunge, you’re going to make new discoveries about leadership work and about yourself that you could never, ever read about on the internet. 

Sometimes I think of learning to lead like learning to ride a bicycle. It’s not possible to write a description of how to ride a bike that could do you any good. You can’t think or study your way into it. Instead, you need to experience the feeling of balance, pedaling, braking, and turning for yourself.

What happens when you take the plunge

When you plunge into leadership moments (say, to cite just one of millions of possible examples, speaking up for your team in a meeting with engineering management), you go through an internal and external process says Herminia Ibarra in Act Like a Leader Think Like a Leader.

Externally, when you start stepping into leadership moments, you start to develop a reputation as someone with a capacity for leadership.

Internally, by engaging in new projects, new activities, interacting with new people and teams, and the myriad other things you might do, you go through personal change. By facing the uncertainty of new situations and new actions, you develop new insights about yourself. As you take more and more actions, these new insights and learnings start to reshape your view of yourself as a tech leader.

And, as we talked about last week, when your self-identity is congruent with your work, it’s easier to be more effective. Tracking and adjusting is a real chore when you see yourself as simply a software engineer. But when you begin to see yourself as a tech leader, you begin to see those activities as indispensable to who you are now. 

Have an awesome Monday tech leads!

-michael


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