Glossary Background Image

No Bad Questions About Project Management

Definition of Technical leadership

What is technical leadership

Technical leadership is the ability to guide, motivate, and empower teams of technical professionals toward shared goals.

At its core, technical leadership encompasses several aspects:

  • Vision and strategy, such as setting the technical direction for the project, defining goals, and making crucial technical decisions.
  • Team management, such as building a strong, cohesive team, motivating individuals, and fostering collaboration.
  • Technical expertise, such as possessing deep knowledge of the technologies involved and solving complex technical problems.
  • Communication, such as communicating technical concepts to both technical and non-technical audiences.
  • Mentorship, such as guiding and nurturing the growth of team members, sharing knowledge, and fostering a learning culture.

What is the difference between people leadership and technical leadership?

These two forms of leadership share common ground in motivating and guiding others, but there are key distinctions:

People leadership:

  • Focuses on emphasizing interpersonal relationships, building trust, and fostering a positive work environment.
  • Requires emotional intelligence, communication, conflict resolution, and team-building skills.

Example: Motivating an HR team, building feedback channels with employees, and managing team dynamics.

Technical leadership:

  • Focus: Driving technical success, making sound technical decisions, and navigating the complexities of the project.
  • Requires deep technical expertise, problem-solving, decision-making skills, and the ability to translate complex concepts into actionable plans.

Example: Choosing the right technology stack, resolving critical bugs, and guiding the team through technical challenges.

What skills should a technical leader have?

Let's break down the core technical leadership skills, splitting all skills into 3 major categories.

Leadership skills

  • Problem-solving: Identify and resolve issues facing teams.
  • Crisis response: Respond to communication breakdowns, project hurdles, or issues calmly and effectively.
  • Team management: Resolve conflicts and encourage cooperation with inclusive leadership.
  • Giving and receiving feedback: Provide empathetic feedback on teams' work and accept constructive feedback.
  • Facilitating communication: Take stakeholder and team input into account to foster dialogue.

Technical skills

  • Performance optimization: Stay updated on industry trends, domain knowledge, and infrastructure to improve team performance.
  • System maintenance: Use and maintain version control, security, database, and cloud systems.
  • Resource management: Ensure teams stay on time and within budget.
  • Reviews: Review teams' work to ensure it meets technical standards or when a technical problem requires expertise.
  • Development: Play a role in coding, engineering, and development.
  • Continuous improvement and delivery: Familiarity with CI/CD tools and practices for automating building, testing, and deploying apps.
  • Prototyping and tooling: Ability to rapidly prototype ideas or solutions and experience with tools streamlining this process.

Soft skills:

  • Resilience: Lead teams through challenging development cycles.
  • Innovative thinking: Find out-of-the-box solutions to problems.
  • Open-mindedness: Be willing to consider other points of view.
  • Empathy: Consider team members' feelings and perspectives.
  • Open communication: Proactively communicate frequently with teams.
  • Organization: Prioritize tasks when managing multiple responsibilities.

Action/solution-oriented: Actively seek solutions when challenges arise.