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How to Become the Most Effective Tech Lead

A lot goes into being an effective tech lead.

However, the most important point is your ability to lead by example. As a technical lead, you need to foster a collaborative environment and inspire the team to work towards the same goal.

It takes tremendous effort and hard work to become an effective technical lead. Hence, not every software engineer becomes a tech lead. But when you do it right, being a tech lead is definitely worth it.

Let’s look at seven important tips that can help you establish yourself as an effective technical lead.

1. You Are Not Above the Code

One of the most important points to remember as a tech lead is that you are not above the code. You do not transform into some all-knowing deity that no longer needs to code when you become a lead.

You are still very much part of the team, and you need to be willing to roll up your sleeves and get your hands dirty.

If you want your team to respect you, you need to respect them and their work.

Show that you are willing to put the same effort into coding as everyone else. Staying sharp in your programming skills is part of the job description of a tech lead. It can only happen when you continue to spend enough time coding.

keep abreast with hands-on coding

Hence, don’t let your coding skills deteriorate because you now have other responsibilities to manage. You are a developer first and a tech lead next. Writing programs is still your primary responsibility. You cannot become an effective tech lead if you lose hands-on coding skills.

However, on the other hand, don’t spend all your time coding. You are supposed to do your assignments and simultaneously lead the team. If you are only focused on coding or completing your tasks, you are neglecting the essential responsibilities of being a technical lead.

2. Understand Your Responsibilities

You get to do more work by being a tech lead. Often developers have the misconception that being a leader of any type means you get to do less work and boss around more. That’s not true.

When you become a technical lead, the amount of work you do increases. Your responsibilities as a developer remain as before. But you also get to take care of the entire project.

The most effective way to understand the responsibilities is to talk to your manager.

Every team, leader, and organization will have specific expectations from their tech lead. You need to align with those expectations to deliver what your company needs from you.

While doing so, don’t forget to bring in your individuality. The team chose you as the technical lead due to your potential and unique ability to perform. Ensure that you don’t lose your originality under the pressure of extra responsibilities.

3. Be the Team’s Guide and Not a Master

Always remember a tech lead is not above their team. Don’t distance yourself, imagining you have a higher position than other developers. Doing so will alienate them and might isolate you.

Many tech leads feel they have the authority to decide work assignments.

Sometimes this newfound power gets to their head. It makes them forget that they are supposed to lead the team technically. You don’t define their work hours, leaves, break times, assignments, estimates, appraisals, etc.

Bec a guide; not a master

Don’t go around telling developers what they need to do. Enable each developer to decide for themselves and deliver accordingly. Of course, the delivery needs to meet the business requirements. Keep an eye on delivery quality, but don’t interfere with how the tasks are delivered.

You don’t choose who does what task in the team, either. Developers should pick the assignments based on their core strengths and interests. Your job is to guide the developers to maximize their potential. Please don’t act like you are the master of their fate in the office.

4. Build Rapport With Your Stakeholders

To be an effective tech lead, you need support from all your stakeholders. You need to align with PO, Architects, Business POCs, Developers, and interlocks to ensure you guide the team towards the successful delivery of the entire project.

The best way to secure full support from your stakeholders is to build a good rapport with each of them. Spend time with people and understand their challenges. You can help them with their queries, perform quick fixes for their everyday problem, guide your interlock through integration challenges, etc.

The better your rapport with the stakeholders, the more they can trust you to lead the team. Your team’s success is directly proportional to the trust and support your stakeholders are willing to provide.

5. Be the Link Between the Team and the Manager

Keeping the team and the manager in sync is a critical responsibility of a tech lead. As the technical lead, you act as the bridge between them. You need to ensure that each understands what the other expects.

The manager should know what the team is capable of and how they perform. The manager must also be aware of any challenges the team faces to provide the necessary support.

puzzle piece

On the other hand, the team should be kept in the loop of what the manager expects. Their goal should align with that of the manager. It is the only way the team can deliver the desired result for the project.

The better the communication between the manager and the team, the smoother will be the project delivery. As a tech lead, it is your responsibility to ensure that this communication is open and effective.

Be careful not to become a barrier, though. You can help as a facilitator when there is a communication gap. But don’t become the bottleneck that impedes the information flow between the manager and the team.

6. Stay On Top of Project Execution

As a tech lead, it might be hard to juggle multiple responsibilities. But by now, you know it is all part of the role. It is better to plan for it instead of worrying about it.

You can do a few things to stay on top of everything happening in your project. And, for all of them, communication is the key.

Set up recurring meetings for various rituals of your project execution. Have a clear agenda for each occurrence. Whether you do it one-on-one or through group meetings is your choice. The goal is to ensure your team is on schedule for the delivery.

It is advisable not to let the team’s progress go unmonitored. Often tech leads assume things are going fine when no one is reaching out to them. In reality, when there is absolutely no noise, it indicates the team is not comfortable sharing their concern.

Devote some time to making the developers feel at ease and willing to seek your assistance. It will be convenient for you to keep track of the progress without spending too much of your time digging through issues.

7. Be Open to Changes

A tech lead must be open to changes in the processes they follow and their technology usage. As your team grows, evolves, and matures, you need to be flexible to allow transformations that will work better for them. Hence, embrace change and help the team grow.

be open to change

The best way to embrace change is to have an open mind. No one knows everything. When you are ready to accept feedback and suggestions, you set the foundation for change.

Simultaneously, be prepared to unlearn and relearn things you know already as a developer. The world of technology is fast-changing. It is essential to keep up with the latest technology trends and apply them to your project when necessary.

As a tech lead, when you adopt changes with the least resistance, it can motivate the team to follow along. They will be willing to get out of their comfort zone and learn new technologies to implement cutting-edge innovative solutions for the project.

Final Thoughts: Become the Most Effective Tech Lead

A tech lead is the backbone of any software development project. They are responsible for creating a productive environment for the team. They also motivate and inspire the developers to deliver quality software on time.

Being an influential and successful tech lead can increase your confidence and visibility by multifold. It can open up better opportunities and help you grow in your career faster than your peers.

Do your best to follow the seven tips suggested in the article, and you will be all set to be one of the most effective tech leads in your organization.

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