The Manager's Path

The Manager's Path

A Guide for Tech Leaders Navigating Growth and Change

Camille Fournier

Good managers are looking out for talented people who could be given bigger leadership roles, but sometimes this leads them to push people away from coding before they’re ready. This practice can have a very negative impact on your career, because at more senior levels people who are considered “not technical enough” can find it hard to be promoted into management positions with more responsibility. It’s much easier to stay in a focused individual contributor role and learn what you need to learn there than it is to try to learn all of those skills while also learning management skills. At some point, to progress in your career, you’ll probably need to do the tech lead job, even if you’re interested in staying on the individual contributor (nonmanagement) career path. That doesn’t mean you need to do it now. If you feel like there’s plenty of purely technical learning for you to do on your team, and you’d rather work individually on this project with someone else running it, don’t take the tech lead role. If, on the other hand, you don’t think the individual work would challenge you technically, perhaps it’s time to push yourself into learning some new skills —and the skills of the tech lead are good ones to try out.

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