Do You Need a Software Team Leader?

April 08, 2014 / category: eBooks / 0 comments

Yesterday (that is, April 07, 2014) I took an active part in the 4Developers conference. By saying “active” I mean I not only attended some presentations, but also did my own one. It was entitled “Do You Need a Software Team Leader?” and was more or less related to my eBook.

Here you can see the presentation:

My eBook: “Memoirs of a Software Team Leader”
Read more »

You may also view it directly on Speaker Deck. In case you wanted to use the 30% discount code, you may use this link.

If you speak Polish, you might be interested in this version: "Czy potrzebujesz lidera w zespole deweloperskim?"

Slides Transcription


  1. Trying to answer the question.
  2. What can a leader help with?
  3. The cons of hiring a leader.
  4. The second approach.

1. Trying to answer the question.

So, do you need a leader?

The most honest and concise answer is: I don’t know

Because I don’t know you.

A more detailed answer would be a bit fuzzy: It depends

  • What do you work on?
  • Who do you work with?
  • What do you want to achieve?

Clues rather than answers.

2. What can a leader help with?

Strict requirements

  • Quality;
  • efficiency;
  • scalability;
  • security;

Leadership should stem from experience.

Experience is one of the ways of building authority.

Coherent vision

Everyone should participate, but…

  • Subjective distortion.
  • Democracy.
  • Projection.

How good bad are the team members?

  • Maturity, responsibility.
  • It’s good to learn those.
  • Some people need to be taught.
  • Some can be shaped.
  • Setting a good example.


  • Discussion;
  • knowledge exchange;
  • moderation;
  • mediation.

Leader can reduce costs.


  • Mediocre developer: x
  • Good developer: 1.5x
  • Team leader: 2x

The difference:

6x + 2x < 6 * 1.5x
     8x < 9x

Even if leader doesn’t do anything besides making the team work.

Team growth may be tempting, but:

  • Overgrowth;
  • communication overhead;
  • effective coordination.

Five good developers together = not necessarily a good idea:

  • Quarrelling a lot.
  • Each of them may be right.
  • Either democratic or effective.

  • Recruitment.

  • Developers are in demand these days.
  • A blend.

  • Avoiding problems to come;

  • expandability;
  • maintainability;
  • monitorability;

3. The cons of hiring a leader.

Trust or protection?


  • Self-organization?
  • Achieving maturity?
  • Self-confidence?
  • Not what a Scrum Master should do!


  • Building trust.
  • Customer, other teams.
  • A long-term process.
  • “I don’t like it, but I believe you.”

A firm hand

  • No room for discussion;
  • here is the decision;
  • it should take you this amount of time;
  • lack of knowledge transfer.

My precious

  • I’ve got the power.
  • And a sieve.
  • Seems interesting?I’ll take care of it.
  • Here are the leftovers.


  • I like you more, so…
  • I have the power, remember?
  • Not a robot, but:
    • Correct: judging by skills, attitude, experience.
    • Wrong: matters of personal concern.

It already works

  • Self-organizing team.
  • Why should anything be changed?
  • Change for change’s sake might be a good idea, though.
  • Room for improvement?

Wrong choice

  • Incompetent leader.
  • Seems good, but…
  • Knows how to pretend.
  • Affects everyone around.
  • At best, is being ignored.

4. The second approach.

Even more questions than before?

To some extent, I meant it.

Hire or designate?


  • Seems more natural.
  • It may be unfair, though.
  • Sometimes it just can’t be fair.


  • A new star is born.
  • A sheriff?
  • Expectations.

  • Fresh air.

  • Not a head start.
  • A challenge.


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My eBook: “Memoirs of a Software Team Leader”

Read more »