The Virtues of the Unproductive Tech Lead

What is a tech lead's focus and what should be done when demands stack up faster than they can be addressed? The answer is in knowing your role.

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Photo by Dakota Roos / Unsplash

For first-time tech leads, transitioning from an engineering role to an engineering + tech lead role can be a bit of a culture shock. Gone are the days of writing code without distraction. You will be asked questions on things you've never previously needed to give any thought to, and those questions will be across all domains of your project. Oftentimes, these problems will come across your desk because no one else can solve them.

While these challenges are something to look forward to, they don't always sum to the most productive feeling days. These circumstances can beg the following questions:

  • If tech leads are still engineers, where should their focus be if it isn't writing code like it was beforehand?
  • With these new demands, how should a lead prioritize what is most important, especially when demands stack up faster than they can be addressed and when it comes at the expense of your morning's to-do list?

To answer those questions, one must fully understand the role of a tech lead and why companies find their position so important.