Developer Book club: Talking with Tech Leads

31/01/2018 developerBookClub techLead leadership books

Talking with Tech Leads by Patrick Kua is next up on my developer book club list. It is a series of interviews with tech leads at varying experience levels.

Recently my role has started to include more mentoring and leadership on projects so I was keen to read how other people deal with their transition from developer to technical leader and also the challenges that come with it.

The book starts by introducing what a tech lead is:

“A leader, responsible for a development team, who spends at least 30 per cent of their time writing code with the team”.

The format of the book is mostly interviews with tech leads answering several questions about their job and career so far. For me, this format is great as I struggle to find time to read a whole chapter of a book. With this short interview format I could read one or two at a time over a cup of tea without having to set aside time.



The first group of interviews is in the section “Novices”, people who have just made the jump from developer to tech lead- ideal for me. This is the section of the book that got most of my wee post its to mark sections I related to, particularly one interview titled: “Less Coding, More Responsibility”. The question of balancing code and other issues is even asked of the more experienced tech leads later in the book, it’s reassuring to hear that others struggle with the “Less Coding” side of things too! As the interviewees in the book point out, using your experience to unblock the other team member’s problems is more useful than keeping your head down coding and ignoring the issues. By helping people, we can make the team more productive even if it means we write less code.

The book discusses 4 main themes:

  • People
  • The Tech of a Tech Lead
  • Bridging the Business with Tech
  • You

 One of the things I have always enjoyed about being a developer is communicating with people in other areas of the business, explaining technical terms in a way they can understand and also understanding their requirements to then translate to technical implementations. This is one of the main aspects that appeals to me about being a tech lead so I was glad to see there was a section dedicated to it in the book!

I would recommend this book to anyone finding themselves taking on this role or those who have been a tech lead for a while. I am realising there is no set way to be tech lead, it will depend on your organisation, team and project however, reading the experiences of others has helped reinforce what I should/ shouldn’t be doing. If I do continue on my journey to tech lead, I think I will come back to this book in a year or 2 and see how my perspective has changed as I gain experience.

Any books to recommend? Send a wee message on twitter!