Tech Leads : You Have To Like People

Chris Norris
2 min readMar 24, 2017

(This is post #2 in my series : “7 Things You’re Doing Wrong As A Tech Lead”)

Building great code is the foundation of your success to date. You’ve been able to make it do exactly what you want by toiling away at a keyboard. Unfortunately you can’t apply your mastery and control of code, to people.

Before you make the step to Tech Lead, you need to ask yourself whether you truly have empathy (aka emotional intelligence) — the ability to understand and share the feelings of another. In a leadership role you need to be as curious, enthusiastic, and persistent with people challenges, as you are when tackling an engineering challenge. This is the foundation to influencing others. If you are consistently frustrated when dealing with people and perceive them mostly as obstacles to getting your work done, then leadership is not for you.

Get to know your team, peers and manager — try to understand what motivates them, try to put yourself in their shoes. Always be asking yourself WHY people are doing things, not just focusing on WHAT they are doing — if you are able to understand why, then you have an opportunity to change the ‘what’.

Think about how you spend time with your team : is it only when you’re discussing code, or in a meeting? If so, you’re not getting to know them well enough to be as effective as you could be.

As someone who is shy, I know that small-talk and socializing can be stressful for engineers. Taking lots of little steps is what has worked for me — think about what might work for you : invite someone for coffee, get together a group of people for lunch, play some foosball, drop by someone’s desk and share an inside joke.

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Chris Norris

Engineering leader for startups — 4 exits and counting. Fascinated with startups, software, and the people around them. Founder at startupfractionalcto.com