What does a Team Lead do?

Group of men riding a boat

The role of a Team Lead is to make your team better within the context of the organization.

What do I mean by that? So instead of being the best Individual Contributor (IC) of your team, a Lead makes others into high-performing ICs. But that’s only one part of it.

Don’t forget the “within the context of the organization” aspect. It’s important because there’s always a tradeoff between what your team wants and what the organization wants. This is a middle ground or balance that needs to be maintained since what may be best for the team can be a detriment to the organization, and vice versa.

For example, if you want to make your team happy, you can give everyone a promotion. But is that realistic? Probably not. Hence, you have to think holistically about the micro (the “trees”) as well as the macro (the “forest”) in regards to making a decision that can benefit both the team and the organization.

Thus, policy changes depend on the impact (cost/benefit), the stakeholders (who approves it), and execution (how it’s implemented). Accordingly, positive policies can fail if they’re communicated poorly.

Ultimately, the job of a Team Lead is to represent the team to upper management (be the voice of the team), be a shield or gatekeeper of the team, and manage expectations on both sides so all parties are aligned.

You’re half a leader, half a manager so your job is to help your team succeed while ensuring the organization succeeds as well.

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