Tech Lead is a Role Tech Lead is a Role

Updated: April 2022

If an engineering career ladder contains a role that can only be done by one person at a time, it’ll create a chokepoint on that ladder that’ll lead to people leaving.

The example I’m thinking of is the role of Tech Lead being one that is a required step along the way to staff engineer. There can really only be one tech lead, and often it’s a role that’s, rightfully, held for a long time. Tech Lead is a different set of skills than other engineering levels, not everyone has them, but it doesn’t mean they can’t become a Staff+ engineer! This isn’t a case where you want to create artificial scarcity, let people grow to be Staff!

If Tech Lead is a role that is a role rather than a title, the career progress of engineers won’t be stifled by having to wait their turn to be Tech Lead just so they can then proceed to Staff. This might feel like a micro optimization, but something that should be sorted out before you get frustrated Senior developers. They’re thinking about it for sure.