Why great leadership is so important in testing teams


10 May 2018 • 10 min read

    The agile methodology is all the rage right now. The principles of agile are proven and efficient in realizing complex software development projects. It all works because agile naturally acknowledges and addresses the inevitable changes in our projects and markets.

    The agile methodology has defined the importance of self-organizing teams as the basic units for measuring and realizing project goals. In the process, we stopped seeing team members individually. It’s all about the team.

    However, it’s smart to make sure that people in your team are provided with a sense of direction by a skilled team leader.

    I’m not talking about the stereotypical, controlling type of management. Instead, I see testing teams becoming productive thanks to the work of a leader who belongs to the team but can access a broader view of the project and mentor other team members. That type of person is a true team leader.

    Here are 4 good reasons why great leadership is so crucial for testing teams.

    1. Supports teammates

    A real team leader should have not only expertise in software testing, but also ample knowledge about testing techniques and best practices. That way they’re able to support team members during their daily work.

    Sharing knowledge isn’t only beneficial for its receivers. It also results in the general elevation of the product quality.

    I can’t emphasize enough the role of the leader’s experience in the project. A good team leader will have an in-depth knowledge of the product that will allow other testers avoid common bugs or direct their attention to the problematic areas of the application. At the same time, the leader can identify proven testing methods for specific functionalities that might not be as obvious to others.

    2. Builds confidence

    Great team leaders are also able to build confidence among the testing team. Technical competencies are essential, but so are personality traits and soft skills. A fantastic team leader knows how to make their team members learn their value but can also act objectively and independently when and evaluating the product.

    The work of testers is basically about verifying the work of other people and in some way could be seen as pointing out to the mistakes made by others.

    That’s why testers need to be confident and believe in their actions. Not everyone is born with these personality traits, but a leader can help individual team members build that type of confidence. That way, the team leader ensures that the testing team as a whole functions correctly and maintains a healthy relationship with other members of the project team.

    3. Encourages development

    The leader of a testing team not only supports members in day-to-day activities but also inspires them to develop professionally. Close collaboration with testers means that the leader can learn a lot about the potential of every individual team member and direct them toward the right career path.

    Mentorship is incredibly vital to testing teams because it allows testers gain satisfaction from improving their qualifications. It’s also an essential advantage for the entire team because the development of individual team members contributes to the productivity of the whole team’s work and its adaptation to realizing various types of tasks such as automatic, manual, or exploratory tests. Diverse competencies in the team ultimately impact the product quality.

    4. Lead the way

    Team leaders usually have a lot of experience and can help show the path toward success to other testers. It’s not about distributing orders to other people and verifying whether they’re realized correctly.  

    A leader is a person who pushes the business vision forward together with other testers. By bringing other people in, a real leader makes sure that everyone is motivated to do their tasks because they are inspired by a common goal, regardless of their individual experience or role.

    A great leader should gain the trust of their team. Not all tasks that are part of the testing process are pleasant – in fact, some of them are monotonous, annoying or challenging. A good leader can motivate people to tackle challenges that are outside of their comfort zone – they fully believe in their plan and trust the person to deliver it.

    Key takeaway

    Even though teams are now the focus of project management trends, leadership is still relevant and worth looking into as a solution for testing teams.

    Mutual respect, trust, and support are the basic values of a great team. A leader who embodies these values will strengthen each team member individually, but also boost the team as a whole – and the project.

    That type of leadership doesn’t mean ordering people around and monitoring the realization of tasks. In fact, that’s the role of a manager. The manager isn’t part of the team and doesn’t know the daily reality of working on the project. That’s why managers might sometimes find it hard to understand the needs of teams fully.

    Team leaders are right in the center of the action. That’s how they’re able to make better decisions and deliver valuable support to their colleagues.

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