Of all the developer extension titles that get thrown around that can vary extensively from company to company, Team and Tech Leads are at the top of the list. I call these extension titles, because in both, you’re still writing code, still contributing to delivery, still doing all that you do, but now you’re looking for something more.
The conversation to becoming a Tech or Team Lead generally starts like this…
Do you want to work with code or people?
It’s a fair question, but also one that makes you feel like you’re 5 years old again and you’re being offered two different types of ice cream when you really want both.
Many view Team and Tech Lead roles as stepping stones to Principals, Staff, Manager positions which is too bad because both roles are vital to the success of a strong development team. If you’re a dynamite Team Lead, you shouldn’t need to become a manager so you can get a higher salary, you’re a dynamite Team Lead and you deserve it (but that’s another article).
If you are trying to figure out what role is best suited to your skillsets, you can break it down to a couple of key discussion points.
Code vs People
Yes, Technical Leads deal more with Code vs People and vice-versa, but it doesn’t mean you are doing one or the other, in the end, both need to know how to code, both need to be proficient in delivery and getting things out the door and both need to know how to work with the team and those around them.
Where they differ is how far you go in each role.
As a Team Lead, you are focusing more on the deliveries that the team is responsible for — are we getting work done, what is holding us up, do I need to walk QA through the new feature, where are our requirements for the next sprint, why is Jimmy struggling on integration, how come our pipelines are failing, I need to give a Sales to demo at 3pm. Your role is that much more focused around the people that are working to deliver the release, in essence, you’re doing more Program Management duties then you were as a developer and you’re seeing the whole picture now. People are asking your opinion on delivery windows, what will be done and when and why the team might be behind. The “People” part is…