One of my close friend once asked me, what do you do as a tech lead at a normal day? I had not thought the question at the time. I summarized a lot. The list goes on and on. After listing a lot, I confessed. I quit coding.
I have contributed code for ten years. Despite changing companies, I managed to keep my routine since. Everyday, I pick assigned stories and get them implemented. No fuss.
That has become auxiliary things for me now. I still write scripts, or walk through the codebase every now and then, but I commit code only when the team needs me.
My wife thought a tech lead writes code for harder problems. But after a long conversation, we concluded:
A tech lead has the big picture of all tech savvy in mind and helps other people to get things done.
I felt anxious of becoming a code-less tech lead at first, even with a lot of readings.
Before becoming a tech lead, my ex-manager thought me too “productive”. Good for me but not good for the team. I contributed most of the team OKRs for a quarter. And he thought I should deliver things slower and wait for team members to catch up.
As a programmer, I did not get that. The company pays me to get things done. Why not just get things done in time?
Long story short. My ex-manager did not complete the whole conversation and left pursuing for his new career. Good for him. Then a new manager joined the company and my team reported to him. With little knowledge on the project, the new manager asked for my help.
This became the pivot point.
I started to do the quarterly planning and sprint planning.
I started to talk to stakeholders and find out requirements.
I started to come up with designs one after another.
I started to review and give my vote of organizational-wide proposals as a member of architecture group.
I started to jump between meetings, one after another.
I started to write down every thing tech decisions.
I started to just do code reviews but write no code.
In short, I did not choose to become a tech lead. And I found myself doing a tech lead’s job, naturally.
Now, as a tech lead, I get what my ex-manager tried to convey.
I put it in my own word:
Getting things done has a thousand ways, not limited to code contributions. A good tech lead inspires even more code contributions.
Even the most productive programmer has a cap. By leading, the team becomes more productive.
Soon, I got promoted from Senior to Principal with salary rise. And I appreciated that.
More than that. I know the team delivers the best possible result with my help. I could not be prouder.