Becoming a Tech Lead: A Road Map
Tech leads are a combination of the responsibilities of both a software engineer and a team leader. They are the perfect hybrid of the technical skills needed to dive deep into code while also managing people and processes. a role that is becoming more common as companies grow larger and continue expanding their product offerings.
Tech professionals are expected to lead groups of developers by example as well as strategy. The role of a tech lead depends greatly on the interpersonal skills, communication skills and years of experience gathered as a software developer to be able to guide and lead the team effectively. A tech lead is responsible for their team members and how they get the job done.
What Does a Tech Lead Do?
A tech lead is a senior-level role that requires a person to understand all aspects of the company’s technology. Being a tech lead, you’ll work alongside other executives to make key decisions that affect the company, such as what software to use and how to integrate it with existing technology. At the same time, you’ll also need to be hands-on with the technical side of the business, which includes hiring and managing software developers, creating project timelines and budgets, and helping to solve problems. Being a tech lead means you’ll need to oversee all aspects of a company’s technical operations. This includes everything from managing the company’s software systems to ensuring that they’re properly integrated and meeting compliance standards. You’ll also oversee employee recruitment and retention efforts, work closely with clients to ensure that they’re satisfied with the level of support they’re receiving, and help ensure that a company’s IT budget is being spent wisely.
As a tech lead, you may also be responsible for overseeing a team that develops and maintains the company’s websites and another team that works on developing and maintaining the company’s software applications. Depending on the company, you may also be expected to manage IT teams focusing on security, compliance, and other non-technical areas. Beyond managing teams, tech leads are responsible for meeting project timelines and budgets, overseeing the implementation of new technology systems, and managing client relationships.
What is the Typical Path to Becoming a Tech Lead?
Depending on the company you work for, you may be promoted to tech lead after a few years of experience as a software developer or systems engineer. In other cases, there may be a specific set of skills and qualifications that must be met before an individual can assume the title of a tech lead. To become a tech lead, it’s important to understand the qualities that are expected of someone in this role. Tech leads are expected to have a broad knowledge of all areas of technology, as well as excellent problem-solving, leadership, and communication skills. A tech lead may also be responsible for overseeing other departments, such as software development, data science, and IT support.
Who is the Tech Lead?
The tech lead is a person who serves as the head of the various technology teams. Each team has members responsible for managing specific aspects of the company’s technology — such as software applications or websites — while the tech lead oversees all of these teams to ensure they have what they need to do their jobs. This role is typically held by someone who has many years of experience in the industry, as it requires a broad knowledge of how various technologies work together. The tech lead is an important position because this person serves as the bridge between management and the technical teams. As the head of the technical departments, the tech lead ensures that all teams are collaborating effectively to meet the company’s technology needs.
The Importance of a Tech Lead
The tech lead is responsible for overseeing all of the company’s technology initiatives. This includes everything from making sure that the company has the right software applications to make sure that it has the right infrastructure to support those applications. A tech lead may also be responsible for managing budgets and personnel. Depending on the company, the tech lead may have other responsibilities. For example, the tech lead may be responsible for overseeing the company’s website or other aspects of its digital presence. A tech lead may also be responsible for ensuring that employees are properly trained to use the technology that’s available to them. A tech lead may also be responsible for providing support for the company’s customers.
The Skill Set for a Tech Lead
A tech lead is expected to have a broad understanding of all aspects of the company’s technology. This may include an understanding of how the company’s hardware systems work, how its software systems work, and how various software applications integrate with one another. There are many different paths to becoming a tech lead. Some people start out as engineers, while others may come from a business or project management background. The important thing is to build your skill set over time to the point that you have a broad understanding of all the different technologies that are used within your company. Beyond understanding the technologies that are currently in use, a tech lead must also be able to anticipate where the industry is going and what new technologies the company may need to adopt in the future. This may include a basic understanding of artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, blockchain, and other emerging technologies.
Get comfortable managing people and processes
Managing people and processes is a critical part of the tech lead role, and will be one of your top responsibilities. You’ll be managing other engineers and working alongside Product to drive towards a shared goal. Start transitioning into this role by getting more comfortable with how your company manages its people and processes. You’ll want to spend time with the HR team to learn about the employee lifecycle and performance review process. You’ll also want to spend time with Engineering leaders to understand the release cadence and product roadmap so that you can provide better guidance and feedback to your team.
Be a visible and accessible contributor
If you want to get promoted to tech lead, you’ll want to be a visible and accessible contributor as soon as possible. This means making sure that you’re involved in all parts of the engineering process and that you’re making room for more visibility and feedback. As an engineer, you’ll already be familiar with the typical development lifecycle, but now is the time that you want to be involved in every stage of the process. You should be reviewing code, providing feedback to your team members, and mentoring junior engineers. This can include code reviews, pair programming, and other initiatives that allow you to provide feedback, help improve skills, and make an impact in your team. You’ll also want to be genuinely interested in what your team members are working on. You might even want to jump in and help out with some projects from time to time in order to gain a better understanding of what your team is focused on. This will help you become more visible and accessible to your team and will help build stronger relationships with the folks you are managing.
Step One: Learn the fundamentals of being a great Tech Lead
As you move through the process of getting promoted to tech lead, it’s critical that you understand where your strengths and weaknesses lie so that you can map out a path to success. Start by asking your manager or HR team what the fundamentals of being a great tech lead are in your company. In addition to asking your company what it takes to be a fantastic tech lead, you can also read through the data from our State of the Tech Lead Report and see what common traits and skills are shared among tech leads across different industries and company sizes.
Step Two: Build your portfolio and find ways to showcase your skills
Part of the fundamentals of being a great tech lead is having a portfolio of work that you’ve been involved with. You want to make sure that you are building a portfolio that showcases your engineering and product skills. As an engineer, you’ve been working on projects for some time now and probably have a bunch of completed work that you can include in your portfolio. Start reviewing everything you’ve worked on and think about how it can be used to demonstrate your skills. You’ll also want to be actively looking for ways to get involved in new projects. Find projects at the top of your organization’s backlog that will allow you to showcase your skills and add value to your team. You might want to reach out to the product and see if there are any product features that you can help get off the ground. The more you can get involved with the overall product strategy, the better.
Step Four: Mentor others and show that you care about the growth of your team
The tech lead role is often one that is focused on the growth and development of your team members. As you move up the ranks, you’ll want to make sure that you’re spending time mentoring and helping grow the engineering team. You’ll want to spend time pairing with team members and providing feedback and guidance. You may also want to spend time getting to know the junior engineers on your team and looking for ways to help them improve their skills and feel more comfortable with their roles.
What does it take to get promoted to tech lead?
If you’re interested in becoming a tech lead, you’ll first want to identify if this is the right path for you. You’ll want to make sure that you are interested in growing your career, mentoring and helping develop your team members, and being responsible for a product and its roadmap. If this all sounds like a good fit for you, then you’ll want to make sure that you are growing your skillset and working towards the fundamentals of being a great tech lead. You’ll want to get comfortable managing people and processes, be a visible and accessible contributor, build your portfolio and find ways to showcase your skills, mentor others and show that you care about the growth of your team.
The tech lead is an important position within any company that relies on technology. This individual is responsible for overseeing all aspects of the company’s technology and making sure that it’s operating optimally.