Nov 12, 2018 Written by David Barlev

As your startup continues to grow and scale, you may be acquiring a team of developers in-house or even partnering with an agency from time to time.

What becomes apparent as your software development needs grow is that someone needs to be put in charge. Whether or not you have someone suitable on your existing team to take on this role, it’s eventually going to become necessary to name someone as your Tech Lead.

When you’re trying to decide if you need to hire someone, or if you could entrust this to a software development partner, here are the things you want to look for to ensure you get the right fit for the job.

They’re really great at delegating

Developers and coders are naturally great problem-solvers. They have this inner desire to kick technical problems in the butt and come up with solid solutions. Rinse and repeat. Unfortunately, this doesn’t mean someone is going to be the ideal Tech Lead for your team.

Delegating is going to be absolutely essential if your Tech Lead is going to be successful. Sometimes, this means passing the coolest projects on to someone else. The Tech Lead can’t continue doing everything themselves – they’ve got to be good at prioritizing their time and finding time for the management tasks amongst their other work.

They’re able to balance active duty and management

Often, shifting to a management role means less “doing” – but in the coding world, this just doesn’t work. Your Tech Lead needs to have the desire to be creative and find ways to manage both, and here’s why. If you have someone making technical decisions without understanding the actual implications they have on the project and the team, it can cause major problems. Removing yourself from the code-i-verse isn’t going to allow you to stay current and updated on best practices and truly understand the shape of the world you’re working in. The best Tech Leads understand this and prioritize blocking off time to code, no matter what.

They can see and appreciate the overall architecture

In some cases, developers, designers, and engineers are working away on their own projects with absolutely no understanding of how their piece of the puzzle fits into the grand scheme of things. The Tech Lead, conversely, needs to have the complete picture available to them at all times. A visual representation of the system architecture, along with any different views, should be taken into account by the Tech Lead at all times. Each diagram will show developers how their project fits into the overall architectural system and its the Tech Lead’s job to understand how all the pieces not only fit together but impact and affect one another as well.

They understand they’re being graded on the effectiveness of their team and not their own personal work

Last, but certainly not least, is the tech lead’s understanding of how their performance is being measured. As a software developer, you’re going to be assessed on your own personal work. But after moving into a Tech Lead role, that changes – it becomes about the entire team and not your individual progress.

A team is only as strong as its weakest link, and it’s the job of the Tech Lead to spend 1:1 time with each team member to ensure they’re getting what they need to be successful. As each person improves individually, the entire team will become better. The Tech Lead must be able to make this mental shift and understand that their performance is now based on the entire team’s performance.

Whether you’re going to promote an existing employee to this role or seek out a software development team to partner with, you really want to take your time and dig into these issues with any potential candidates. Becoming a Tech Lead isn’t for everyone, and you want to make sure you can find the right individual for this challenging role.