You’re Fired! One Thing which Effective Tech Leads should Have

I would like to write about one nature which effective tech leads should have based on my experience. As effective tech lead, you need to fire some particular people.

Rich Get Richer

One of the criticism of capitalism is that rich get richer. The rich start a good business based on their capital. Poor need to stick with regular business. The one-side game of rich causes excessive gap between rich and poor which make our society unstable. Donella Meadows, who writes “Thinking in Systems”, pointed that is one of the typical example of self-reinforce loop. The gap keep increasing.

This is not limited to finance. Same logic applies to experience for engineers. Good engineers resolve difficult problems leveraging their past experience. They get more experience through the problem resolution. More people come to the talented engineers because of their reputation. As a result, experienced engineers get more experience.

One-side Winner Spoilt the Team

This is good in terms of personal career growth. However, we need to be a bit careful in terms of team building. One-side winner can spoil the team.

I respect one senior. He has amazingly wide range of experience while very deep level of knowledge in multiple domain. Once some critical incident happens, he identifies the suspect of root cause by his instinct based on his experience. He resolves issues by creative solutions just like a magic.

The team achieved a lot. However, the ream got a severe problem when he decided to leave. There is not talent who can take over his responsibility. That is because he did resolve problems by himself. The rest of the team got limited experience to get practice.

I have learned two things from him. The one is engineering knowledge which is today’s my base as senior. The another is that I should not be an inevitable piece of the team.

One Thing which Effective Tech Leads should Have

One thing which effective tech leads should have is: an ability to fire yourself. Free up your opportunity, and provide more to your juniors. And you want to fire yourself from the team. I heard this phrase in some engineering management community. The phrase got strong influence to my mind, and changed my work style.

I have fired myself multiple times. I built team and left the team. This approach required courage. I might lose my job in next year if the team is working fine without me. Or, I needed to take risks to delegate some critical task to juniors. If that did not work, I need to take the responsibility and spend much effort to recover the situation (and actually I did sometimes).

However, I don’t know why but bigger opportunity came to me as I build the team who can work independently. And I can quickly move to the new opportunity with no issue as there is the team ready to take my previous responsibly!

Robert Iger said:

At its essence, good leadership isn’t about being indispensable; it’s about helping others be prepared to step into your shoes – giving them access to your own decision-making, identifying the skills they need to develop and helping them improve, and sometimes being honest with them about why they’re not ready for the next step up.

Let’s fire yourself. That build your better career actually.

Global team builder from Tokyo. Engineering manager to build international engineering organization.