People of Symphony starring Lehel Papacek: The Story about Leadership, Support, and Balance

People of Symphony starring Lehel Papacek: The Story about Leadership, Support, and Balance

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August 20th, 2020

Meet Lehel, or Papi - as we like to call him. Papi has been a member of the Symphony community since the early establishment of our development center in Novi Sad, almost three years ago! Being one of the first engineers who joined it, he had an opportunity not only to witness the growth of this center but to follow it with his individual development as well. This is the story about leadership, support, and balance - the story of one developer’s growth.

We asked Papi about his early start at Symphony and the first projects he worked on. He recalled some of the most interesting projects he worked on and said: “Projects are mostly related to finances, the automotive industry, as well as the music industry - pretty diverse, right? The most impressive thing about programming is the massive range of its usage, that’s also where the true growth happens.”

Being involved in the development of different types of products broadened his views on what really matters during that process, and it all fits into one word - cohesion (as a method but also as a goal). 

It’s not about what you build; it’s about who you’re building it with

“Leading a team means constantly creating a balance between different needs and demands, and it’s a lot easier to understand the needs of your teammates when you’ve already walked in their shoes! Therefore, leading a team should be based on honesty, support, and transparency - you can’t achieve cohesion without making people feel confident about always sharing their opinions.” He highlighted that every success is a collective one, as well as every problem, but also that giving recognition to those individuals who go the extra mile is what’s truly important!

Curious about how he manages his time and what helps him keep an eye on the productivity of others, he explained that building trust is always the way to go. When it comes to maintaining his own productivity, he revealed that splitting tasks into many simpler assignments does the trick - it’s the small victories that count!

Papi explained that his activities are split into two parts: people and technology. “Leaders often tilt towards the side they are familiar with; therefore, we have the leaders who lean more towards the product, and those who are more people-oriented. Leading a team is all about balancing those two, so you have to set your priorities straight and manage your time carefully. I spend most of my time supporting my teammates, and I probably do it because I am a developer myself - it really helps me understand them and choose the right approach towards assisting them to resolve the challenges they deal with.

Staying neutral is a matter of staying sane

The role of a team lead often includes making decisions that reflect on many other segments of a project - especially on people. Having many different stakeholders makes this a bit harder, but Lehel’s advice is to try to stay neutral as much as possible so that all the decisions are made impartially. Papi jokingly stated that neutrality helps leaders stay sane - juggling three balls is nearly impossible when one is heavier than the others, right? On a more serious note, he concluded that “communicating in an honest way and keeping the perception of challenges and solutions objective and fair is a way of maintaining balance in difficult situations.”

Leading a team means their growth is your growth and vice versa

Papi named three things that still help him grow within Symphony: “Technologies come first because we are always oriented towards the latest and greatest ones. The second thing is knowledge as a fundamental value - we often have knowledge-sharing sessions within our teams, and I truly believe that seeing you are not the smartest one in the room means you are in the right room! Learning always means growth, and that is the value we like to focus on. The third thing, and this is the priceless one, is our amazing community that makes you feel like you truly belong to one big family.”

Being invested in the team’s growth implies developing both the people and technology skills, and our Papi has managed to thrive in both fields by helping his teammates reach their full potential.

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