So, a new situation has come up at work. My lead let me know today that he/she is going on a parental leave around October last week. I did ask them to let me know if I need to step up and need to prepare anything before they leave.
Question is How do I handle this situation and work with my directors to get prepared for it. I don't feel prepared to replace them for the next 3 -4 months nor I think I'm expected to do that but the question here is how can I proactively reach out, prepare and help the team in this situation.
These conversations are best done in person (or at least synchronously). I'd start with the lead who is about to go out, and have a conversation: "I want you to be able to peacefully enjoy your break, here are a few areas where I'd like to fill in the gap in your absence, can you help me get the context here?" And generally the actual knowledge transfer should be documented somewhere like a wiki.
Next have a conversation with your manager/directors: "The lead is going out on leave and I want to ensure the team is well-prepared in their absence. Here are the list of areas I chatted with her about, what else should be on this list?"
Finally, if needed (if you think there's a need/it'll help reduce confusion) you can broadcast out to the team with the plan and talk about how things like oncall or feature questions will get handled
This is an interesting situation - My immediate piece of advice is to view this as an opportunity to grow and add more value to the team as opposed to something to be afraid of. I know that this is easier said than done, but having the fearful mentality often contributes to a self-fulfilling prophecy where the lack of confidence makes it harder to fill in the gaps.
Tactically, this is what I recommend: