I did briefly work as a lead at one company due to the need. There are two major elements to being leader that I didn’t know until I had to do it myself.
First - the lead dinglehopper doesn’t actually do all that much dinglehopping herself. However, the small amount of dinglehopping she does tends to be the mission-critical stuff, because the lead dinglehopper has the best understanding of the entire process. The vast majority of the actual dinglehopping work was done by my team. The few times I actually needed to step in and do things myself were for the really critical problems that required understanding of how everything fit together.
Second - the lead dinglehopper spends a huge amount of time in meetings, mostly tanking the meetings for her team. The lead deflects unnecessary or irrelevant issues from the team - bugs or tasks that may not necessarily be the responsibility of the dinglehopping team need to be validated by the lead before passing them to the team. The lead coordinates with the other teams and disciplines to make sure that forward progress is being made all around, roadblocks are removed, and that everyone is working toward the same goal.
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