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Software development is a field that’s founded in teamwork, but it’s also one where very few people have strong leadership skills. Many managers are hastily trained and learning on the job, which often leads to low morale, bad culture and disorganised processes.
As a software engineer, just as you’ve reached the peak of your skills, you get promoted to management–meaning your company loses a valuable dev and gains a completely inexperienced manager. How do you cope?
1. Admit you don’t know what you’re doing
Don’t get cocky. You’re not an expert here; it’s time to fire up your beginner’s mind and start learning. Read books on management and ask more experienced colleagues for advice.
2. Stay humble
We’ve all had that manager who was an ass. Don’t be that manager. Stay humble and lead by example–be there for your team and don’t expect them to do things you won’t do yourself. Having said that…
3. Learn to delegate
Much as you might want to stay part of the coding team, you won’t have time to write code, and nobody wants to pair code with their manager. Delegating is a hard skill to learn, but it’s vital to your success as a manager.
4. Lead, don’t micromanage
You should know from your own experience that developers don’t like to be micromanaged, so trust your people to know what they’re doing.
5. Dress for the job
You’re not Mark Zuckerberg. It’s time to ditch the amusing t-shirts and start embracing the business casual look if you want to be taken seriously. You’re unlikely to be an authoritarian leader, but you still want your people to respect you and look up to you.