Hello, World: Why Tech Lead Daily?

Hello, World. This is the new Tech Lead Daily blog.

Why did I start this blog? I’ve been futzing around with various permutations tech lead “things” for the past year or two. I’ve got the LA Tech Lead Workshop Meetup limping along and I work on the open source Tech Lead Workshops on Github.

But whenever I run one of those Meetups or write a new workshop, it’s basically a finished product. That puts a lot of pressure on me to “get it right” when I feel like I’m still figuring this stuff out. I don’t have a space to gather up ideas and share them as I do. Worse, since I’m doing this in what little spare time I have, it can be a long time between updates.

So I’m going to to publish or share the things I’m learning as often as I can on this blog. Then, at a minimum, I’ll blast out a Tech Lead Weekly letter.

Why write about tech leadership? If you look at my LinkedIn profile, I’ve been in and out of tech lead roles since the late 1990s. At the time, I wasn’t sure why my managers kept putting me in those roles. I was a reliable, conscientious developer, but I usually wasn’t the strongest coder on the team. In retrospect, it was probably because I was usually better at communicating what was going on to my management and other stakeholders. So I got nominated the “tech lead” by default.

Being the central communication point for the team was pretty easy for me. But when it came to actually leading a team to do X or Y, I rarely felt effective — especially with more senior engineers.

In retrospect, it’s obvious why. Being a tech lead is not, whatsoever, a natural progression from being a technical engineer. Leadership skills are completely independent from coding skills. The two skill sets may correlate with some people lucky enough to be born with both, but generally leadership demands a completely different set of skills than mastery of algorithms, data structures, or the nuances of the git cli.

When I tried to lead a team through some technical issue, most of the time the outcome was ambiguous: it worked out sorta ok, sorta not. The ambiguity and discomfort made me retreat to the code. I see tech leads today make the same oscillations day after day.

I’m hoping this blog, the newsletter, and the workshops help you avoid my mistakes and be better tech leads than I ever was.

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