Lead Dev 2016 London: What I wish I knew as first time lead dev

1. as a developer

Job was looking at code and wanting to deliver.

What was cool :

  • fast feedback (UT, monitoring…)
  • problems are solved rapidly (in hours, days)
  • building systems to make an impact

How to make the move from developer to lead developer ? What does it mean ?

2. First time as a lead dev

It was scary. As a developer, learned a lot everyday. What to do do now ? He felt like an imposter.

The path os rocky, with a lot of mistakes. As a tech lead, your impact is amplified.

Mistakes not to do:

  • writting code all the time (because it feels safe)
  • make all technical decisions (you don’t have all the info). What is left for the others ?
  • people is someone else’s problem
  • the team known what they are doing. Your responsability is to make everyone aligned, resolve problems as a team (with concensus)

3. A wiser tech lead

  • the world will no longer be binary
    • feedback takes days, weeks
    • don’t know if it’s the right action
    • -> the trap is to (re)act too rapidly
  • you don’t need to have all the answers: the whole team is there to back you up
    • expose your vulnerability
    • help people grow
    • “I don’t know, let’s ask someone who knows.”
  • your role is not to be liked by everyone (example, fable from Esope “the man, the boy and the donkey”)
  • you are not alone
    • as a dev, you were part of a team
    • as a lead dev, you are a little out of the team. They are other people outside the team to help you. -> build your own support network
  • non tech areas are as just as important
    • less instant gratification
    • invest time in all areas
  • people are complex. don’t think of developers just as a collective group. Think of each person individually, what are their passions, what they do on theirs week ends… It takes time (it’s a lot of conversations). Create a feedback culture.
  • you can’t do everything yourself. Use the situational leadership model.
    • two axis, supporting, and directing
    • 4 phases: sell, tell, participate, delegate
    • how do you progress people between these phases ?
  • they are many ways to be a leader
    • coach: asking questions to let people connect the dots
    • shepherd: help people along the path
    • shaman: (story telling ability) why things are the way they are
    • champion: protect the team, to give them space
  • you have a secret power: saying no. Focus on where there is the most value. Important things before urgent things.
  • your role gives greater impact

4. the journey never ends

Continue to learn