From Techie to Boss: Transitioning to Leadership

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Inhaltsverzeichnis Frontmatter Chapter 1. Moving into Management Abstract. You're respected by people inside and outside of your group. When there are hard problems to be resolved, you're the person who makes things work on time and under budget.

Successful Leadership Transitions

More than once, you've pulled a complete miracle out of your hat. And when the team needs a new manager or team lead, you're the person at the top of the list. When you were a team member, you managed your own time. You probably did a pretty good job at it; you were effective enough to be seen as a leader.

As a manager or team lead, you suddenly have a whole new set of challenges. You may also assign projects for your subordinates to manage. In Chapter 2, we discussed the importance of assessing the people on your team early in your tenure. Your team members can be characterized in one of the following ways:. This chapter includes some information and techniques that will be useful in dealing with conflicts.

Nobody likes writing up budgets. It is a lot less fun than learning a new technology or architecting a new service. But the organization you work for needs to bring in more money than it sends out, or it is in trouble. Troubleshooting refers to the methods used to resolve problems. People who troubleshoot a lot come up with a set of habits, methods, and tools to help with the process. These provide a standard approach for gathering the necessary information to zero in on the cause of a problem.

This standard approach is known as a methodology. Getting things done requires more than a position. You need respect, and sometimes you need friendship. Sometimes you need to be able to get things done without having the authority to make it happen.

Geographically dispersed teams have become a reality in most large workplaces.

I think more interesting than the question "how can I? If your primary motivation is career advancement, then you might find that you're not cut out for the job. You might also discover that it was your calling all along, of course. IMNSHO, the best managers tend to be at least a tiny bit reluctant because they recognize the burden of responsibility for others. They realize it's not about them, but everyone else. Without their team, they are nothing, but without them, their team might still be okay.

Their impact is that of a force multiplier, and they'll rarely get to go home thinking "that was a mighty brutal bug I singlehandedly fixed today" or something similarly directly gratifying. They accept that sometimes doing the right thing by someone does not involve bring their best friend and do the job anyway.

From Techie to Boss: Transitioning to Leadership by Scott Cromar

They are constantly in a tension between representing their employees' interests to the company as well as the company's matters to their employees. They accept that there's no more black and white in their professional life ever, and that it's compromises all the way down. Except for some matters of ethics, eg. But above all, they have to care.

About what the company does, about how it does it, and about the people that make up the company. They will find a way to be themselves within that envelope. People will know that they care and repay in trust and commitment. I've had a lot more success with growing managers by looking for people with the right attitude and convincing people to try than with people why stick out mostly due to eagerness.

Edit: spelling. When I went from freelance developer to managing a team of 20, I went through many of these challenges, especially of feeling like you're handing off a project that won't be done as well as if you did it yourself.

Transitioning to Leadership

But when you find great people and the project is done as good or better than you could have done it it feels amazing as you're accomplishing more than you ever could have by yourself. I too have had that uneasy feeling you are talking about. Letting go of total control over how things are being done as I went from just me hacking away, to leading a small team has been interesting. I tell myself sometimes to my team directly that we can just redo any choice that we make if it doesn't work out or we will work together to make the choice work.

I want them to own problems and decisions. I want to empower them to as best I can. As a result, I have never had to totally redo any technical choice that my team has made. We have had to fix a few things together, and that has only brought us closer. Joeri on Feb 3, I took that approach for a while, but it ended up blowing up in my face one time too many.

Now I try to block bad code from landing in the first place by requiring code reviews prior to merging into master. Sometimes a patch is thrown away entirely and usually it takes two or three tries before a patch is ready for merging, but the overall code base quality is higher. I think there is a fine but meaninful distinction to be made here: One can and IMHO should require code reviews for each change, but not be the person to actually do the code review. If every code review needs to go through you, then you become a bottleneck.

This means that you need to trust members of the team to do solid reviews, and you focus on observing the team's processes and debugging problems like: - We don't have clarity on what our conventions look like. I agree. But the tech lead should have a circle of trusted lieutenants who act as gatekeepers. Having to be more directly invested in what other people are or are not doing makes me feel uneasy. I think it's going fine and I don't hate it or anything, it's just that worrying about other people's work isn't really my idea of a dream role. After practicing a lot, I find one of the greatest satisfactions in life to be the ability to let a project go and know it is good hands.

JimboOmega on Feb 3, As is the case every time I see an article like this I agree with the points - but I want to know how one gets the position, not what to do when you get there.


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The fact that it's just sort of taken as granted is a frustrating thing for those of us who have wanted, but never been offered, such a position. I made the transition about 4 years ago. In trying to help my senior engineers level up to leadership positions, I've learned the following: 1.

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Ownership means taking a responsibility assigned to you, understanding why it's important to the organization objectives rather than blinding executing , driving it to completion and reporting progress without your manager ever having to poll or prod you. As engineers, our first instinct is to engineer things the best possible way with the best possible technologies. As managers, we'll need to understand that in a non-ideal world, there are tradeoffs.


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  • Sometimes you need to be able to prioritize organizational goals ahead of your engineering preferences. We may want to be efficient in communications, but sometimes in doing so, we end up making the team inefficient by unnecessarily generating negative emotions within the team members.

    Communication is a local maximum. The global maximum is the team. In other words, sometimes you must suffer fools gladly, you'll need to learn to tell people no without hurting their egos. If you exhibit these qualities as an engineer, any good manager will mark you as a lead candidate.

    See a Problem?

    Obviously, you should avoid ever being in such a situation, but if circumstances are such that you have to choose between delivering the whole truth or tact, choose the truth and clean up afterwards. Hurt pride can be mended, broken trust and untruths left to fester generally can't. I agree on the ownership and proactivity being key here. Look for possibilities to show and practice leadership skills within the current company setup and role.

    This can be as simple as taking one story end-to-end to production from requirement analysis to deployment and experiment analysis while interacting with different roles product, engineering, devops and even explicitly asking your manager s for such possibilities. Being the person that knows the progress and owning success is key here, plus you will score some points for being someone that work can be delegated to.

    Organising learning groups, guilds is also of help to get visibility within an organisation while still being fairly close to tech as you form a group of people around a topic you're passionate about.