Technical Excellence in Technical Leadership

Originally aired:

About the Session

What does it mean to be a technical leader? There is engrossing evidence that technical workers want leaders who are strong technologists, leaders they believe they can learn from. If technology managers don’t understand the technology at a detailed level, it’s difficult for them to make the right call. 

Good technical leaders are capable of understanding systems through many different lenses. They understand that their companies are shaped by people and technologies and processes, and they’re capable of investigating each of these areas to understand how it contributes to the current success or challenges of the team. Good technical leaders have a strong sense of technical empathy, which helps them appreciate the challenges their engineers are facing, even if those engineers are working on problems that the leader has never personally written code to solve. Also, good technical leaders have good technical judgment. They’ve built enough systems themselves that they have a notion of what kinds of questions to ask when people propose technical solutions, but they also appreciate the needs of the business and will challenge their teams to come up with solutions that meet those needs.

Technical leaders don’t just inspire people to do things, but are capable of communicating with technical stakeholders and engineers in language that they understand. The challenge is that being a great engineer doesn’t automatically translate into being a great leader. Leadership – technical or otherwise – is not something one is born with; it is a skill that is developed over a lifetime. 

The success of a product is a team effort and a Technical Leader's role is to build, train, and lead engineering teams. Awesome teams build awesome products. In order to achieve this objective, it’s necessary to combine tech skills with people skills. My talk will cover pointers to help new technical managers go through the transition from individual contributor to Technical leader. Also I shall be covering how to be an effective non-coding technical leader. 

By the end of the session, you'll have a clear picture of the importance of concepts like empathy, self-limiting beliefs, systems thinking and cognitive biases and their significance in individual and team performance. And you won't just learn concepts, you'll take back concrete ideas to implement in your teams starting the next day!

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