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After half a year working for the company, I got two students to be leader for. So, I got some technical management responsibility. As I think, I should be not just a leader, but a teacher and the one who is example.

What are common steps to educate junior developers? How to be not just a boss, who gives the task, but a 'senior fellow'? Is it appropriate to give some advices which are not properly related to coding(for example, human interaction and so on). I want to be a good leader for them, but don't have any experience in that and don't know what to begin from.


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closed as too broad by gnat, GlenH7, MichaelT, Kilian Foth, ozz Oct 15 '13 at 11:18

There are either too many possible answers, or good answers would be too long for this format. Please add details to narrow the answer set or to isolate an issue that can be answered in a few paragraphs.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

Please follow this proposal for that kind of question: Organization aspects – bigown Dec 10 '10 at 20:50
up vote 12 down vote accepted

There are more than 250+ books on leadership. I've read many of them and there are some common advices. My favorite one is The 8th Habit. You may start with that first. You may consider The 7 Habits also which is not specifically on leadership, but contains many of the concepts you will find in that kind of books.

Now the most effective way to learn how to be a leader I know is finding a mentor within your organization that is a leader him/herself.

Identify her/him by talking to other employees. Once you have the name, send him/her an email explaining her/him your new challenge and that you would like to talk with him about it to get some advices.

Most leaders will accept, especially if they are in the same organization.

If the first discussion is fruitful, ask another talk a month or two after. This time, tell her/him about problems your encounter. Tell him/her you want her/him to be your mentor.

It is also advisable to have more than one mentor if your organization is big enough.

In addition of asking that person, you can come on website like this one to ask more specific questions. I'm sure many will be more than happy to help.

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+1 for the "find a mentor to become a mentor" observation - very important – Gary Rowe Nov 26 '10 at 21:42
More than 250? That's an understatement. When I search books on amazon for "leadership" I get over 100,000. – Bryan Oakley Oct 14 '13 at 21:33

I'd be careful of the terminology you are using there. Educating can make you come off as the source that knows the answer and that may be true some of the time. My suggestion is to consider being a mentor for the junior developers, where here are a few key points:

  1. Ensure that they know they can ask you anything and it's OK. This is more in terms of being aware of how you answer questions or in some cases hint towards an answer. I remember various teachers and mentors that knew just what to ask so I could figure something out on my own rather than being spoon fed the answers. If you answer a question with a remark like, "How in the world could you possibly have the audacity to even consider asking me in all my mightiness to even slightly comprehend what you, a lowly junior developer..." you may come off as rather arrogant and not approachable.

  2. Build a personal relationship. This is where knowing a bit about what each person likes and has an interest can be useful. If you want to introduce someone to relational databases and they love movies, building some tables related to movies may be a good initial example. Another point here is to see if you can notice how someone else learns and see if they are aware of that. For example, some people could read directions on using a design pattern and go ahead and code it without much trouble, while others may need to do a dozen examples to know they understand how it all works.

  3. While it can be appropriate to give advice, be aware of when are you giving unsolicited advice and why you see this as necessary. How to Win Friends and Influence People has some ideas here when it comes to persuasion that can be useful. As an example of where it may be necessary to give unsolicited advice is where if you see someone about to do something amazingly dumb, you may stop them and tell them, "No, don't do that!" like if someone were about to hit a customer or yell at a co-worker. At the same time, there are some people where telling them what to do will backfire greatly as a, "because I said so!" will just be met with rebellion and defiance.

  4. Know yourself well. How well do you know where your strengths are? What kinds of weaknesses you have to manage? Do you prefer formal structures or an informal, "We'll just do what works," approach? Are you good at summarizing information? Do you prefer to look at things from a top-down or a bottom-up perspective? This is barely scratching the surface but I'd hope you get the idea that while you may be wanting to help those junior guys, there is some changes that will probably happen to you too.

Just some ideas that hopefully help to some degree.

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