Tech leads lead technical projects.

They still code, but figure out how to get others coding first. They invest in their people skills. Primary focus is to keep projects moving. Other responsibilities include analyst work, architecture work, project planner, and project manager.rF2 Tech leads serve as force multipliers on their teams. This is an engineering management responsibility, which may be trained and delegated.

One of the archetypes of staff engineer. Sometimes a manager role, sometimes an individual contributor paired with engineering management and product management. They scope, coordinate, unblock, foster cross-functional relationships, define vision, and have historically been responsible for building critical systems themselves.rL4 Where a team has few individual contributors, an engineering manager may take on this role, though it is harmful by limiting their investment in both technical and management skills.rL6


  1. Michael McIntyre, “Goodhart’s Law,” October 17, 2001, https://www.damtp.cam.ac.uk/user/mem/papers/LHCE/goodhart.html. (See notes.)

  2. Will Larson, Staff Engineer: Leadership beyond the Management Track, First edition (San Francisco? Will Larson, 2021). (See notes.)

  3. Camille Fournier, The Manager’s Path: A Guide for Tech Leaders Navigating Growth and Change, ed. Laurel Ruma, First Edition (Beijing: O’Reilly, 2017). (See notes.)