How to be a Tech Lead

A checklist for career growth

Stepping into the role of a Tech Lead marks a significant leap in your career journey. To navigate this transition successfully, it's crucial to have a clear roadmap. In this article, we'll dive into the essential skills and actionable advice for each phase of the Software Development Life Cycle (SDLC). Blending technical skills with soft skills is crucial for aspiring Tech Leads. To be honest, this list is just scratching the surface, but it can be a helpful foundation to start from.

Planning Phase: Setting the Foundation

Think of the planning phase as laying the groundwork for a sturdy structure. As a Tech Lead, you'll need both technical finesse and excellent communication skills. From defining objectives to aligning them with broader business goals, effective planning sets the stage for success.

Advice for Demonstrating Readiness

  • Take the lead in planning sessions
  • Articulate technical requirements clearly
  • Showcase your leadership in goal setting

Requirements Phase: Gathering Insights and Understanding Needs

Understanding user requirements is at the heart of building great software. As a Tech Lead, you'll play a pivotal role in translating user needs into technical specifications. Beyond technical know-how, empathy and active listening will be your greatest allies in this phase.

Advice for Demonstrating Readiness

  • Dive deep into requirement gathering
  • Build strong relationships with end-users and stakeholders
  • Collaborate closely with product owners to refine requirements

Development Phase: Building the Solution

Now comes the exciting part – building the solution. Architectural design, code reviews, and mentoring junior developers will be part of your daily routine. But it's not just about the code; fostering a culture of collaboration and innovation within your team is equally important.

Advice for Demonstrating Readiness

  • Lead by example in architecture discussions
  • Mentor your team members
  • Create an environment where everyone feels empowered to innovate

Testing Phase: Ensuring Quality and Reliability

Quality is non-negotiable in software development. As a Tech Lead, you'll need to champion testing efforts, advocate for best practices like test-driven development, and ensure that your product meets the highest standards of reliability.

Advice for Demonstrating Readiness

  • Take ownership of testing initiatives
  • Advocate for thorough test coverage
  • Prioritize automation and quality at every stage of development

Deployment Phase: Delivering Value to Users

Deploying your product into the real world is where the rubber meets the road. From automation to collaboration with operations teams, your focus will be on delivering value to your users seamlessly and reliably.

Advice for Demonstrating Readiness

  • Own the deployment process
  • Implement automation wherever possible
  • Collaborate closely with operations teams to streamline deployments

Maintenance Phase: Sustaining and Evolving the Solution

Once your product is out in the wild, the work doesn't stop. Managing technical debt, prioritizing maintenance tasks, and advocating for resources to support ongoing evolution will be key to sustaining your product's success. I recommend learning about Analytics and other measurement systems in order to help generate ideas to improve the feature or system. You should be seen as someone who builds and improves technical products in multiple ways.

Advice for Demonstrating Readiness

  • Lead the charge in managing technical debt
  • Prioritize maintenance tasks strategically
  • Advocate for resources to support continuous improvement
  • Mentor other developers on your team to see where they can contribute more in each phase of the SDLC


Transitioning from a developer to a Tech Lead is a journey filled with challenges and opportunities for growth. By embracing the R&R System and honing your technical and soft skills, you'll be well-equipped to lead your team to success with confidence and competence.

Looking for personalized guidance to accelerate your career advancement? Consider signing up for personalized 1-on-1 coaching sessions. Visit my coaching page to learn more and take the next step towards achieving your goals.