Tech leads are in the position to act as strong technical project leaders, and to use their expertise at a larger scale so that their whole team gets better. They can make independent decisions, and they play a big role in coordinating with other nonengineering partners that their team might have. You’ll note that there’s nothing here about specifically technical work. This is a senior engineering role, but it’s a mistake to tie the notion of tech lead to one that boils down to the best or most experienced engineer on the team. You can’t lead without engaging other people, and people skills are what we’re asking the new tech lead to stretch, much more than pure technical expertise. However, tech leads will be working on one major new technical skill: project management. The work of breaking down a project has a lot of similarity to the work of designing systems, and learning this skill is valuable even for engineers who don’t want to manage people. If you’ve found yourself in the tech lead position, congratulations! Someone thinks you have what it takes to be the point person for a team.
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