We’ve already talked about who a Tech Lead is and how the position differs from the Team Leading one. Now we are going to talk about how to become formal and informal Tech Lead of a team. The position of Tech Lead is frequently informal (everyone knows what you’re doing but your role is not official). You should be prepared for it.
What a Tech Lead should know and do
Being a Team Lead you need to know how your systems work – not just the logic, but also all the tech stuff. Opposite of Team Lead your job is to know profoundly why a particular decision is made and how to elaborate your systems. All the pitfalls and temporary solutions should be acknowledged by you (and ideally they should be described in the documentation as well).
You need to know how to explain architecture in plain words to business dep and your colleagues. Just knowing and understanding is not enough to become a leader. If you can’t explain and assure someone, no matter how awesome you are tech-wise (you may even be irreplaceable), you are not going to be a leader, even a Tech Lead. Being able to communicate and talk about the problems to business colleagues is going to be a huge advantage. And you won’t need to constantly ask for Team Lead’s help, which may be perceived as your drawback as a leader.
You need to know how to build an architecture you can scale and support. Usually this point goes without saying.
You should know how to persuade the team that you are right in terms of methods and approaches. Otherwise you are going to be buried under constant quarrels and conflicts. All this is going to cause a bad environment. No one will want to hold you as the leader of anything afterwards.
You need to know how to transfer your experience and knowledge aka nurture your team. It is very important. The stronger your team is, the better it is going to perform. It correlates with the complexity of the tasks your team will be able to undertake and the strength of the architectural solutions you will use.
How to become a Tech Lead
The first thing you should do is to read through the list above and understand what points you need to work on in your particular case. If there are any, make a development plan for yourself.
Gather the feedback from your colleagues, business and bosses. Try to find the growing points for yourself. Don’t be closed to critique you may encounter. If the colleagues are negative towards you or have any problems with you personally, your defense mechanism will lead to the lack of transparency between you and your colleagues. Gather all the information and work on yourself.
Discuss your wish with your boss and find out what his/her opinion is. Offer your help concerning these tasks. Probably you will get what you want and the list of tasks for your personal development.
Be active and kind. Help your team with working on architecture, be patient with the problems and when people know less than you (Tech Lead should know better when it comes to tech stuff). Become a person everyone goes to when it comes to tech issues and architectural tasks.
Basically you won’t need more than you would possibly have to do when achieving a new position. You need to meet the criteria, be a Tech Lead on every occasion. You should be open to requests and feedback. Then you are going to be a Tech Lead, at least an informal one.
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