10x engineers and Tech Leads

Lately, the 10x engineer meme has been making rounds on the interwebs. I have to admit that when I started my career, I was mistaking some of the traits described in one of the twitter threads. But I have come a long way since then. For example, in the last few roles, I have given my full attention to understanding the business problem first and then collaborate with domain experts to solve the problem. This was  opposed to sitting in a corner and compiling Linux kernel to make my machines run faster (since I had  fast enough machine and kernel development was not core business)

But this got me to think, how can you truly be an engineer with a much greater impact. Even though it is probably not an African proverb, I still like the following saying.

“If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”
I think the only way to have a more significant impact on software development is to work in teams. The way I see it, it is rare to do anything meaningful in the software world as a lone wolf these days. In this context, teams don't have to be co-located or be friends with each other/share non-work interests (but all of these factors help). But it is not enough to just be working in a team to have a more significant impact. But humans working together need some structure and leadership. This is where the role of a Tech lead comes in.

Tech leads make it possible for engineers to do their best job. They are not the only reason, but good tech leadership is what I believe to 10x productivity. Tech leads need to be helping and supporting their team. They don't wait for things they do things. They listen more and talk less. They inspire instead of complaining. And most important of all they empower their team, instead of controlling. Most of these are good culture traits to have in any role.

I have encountered people who are in the lead role due to their excellent technical skills, but they lack some of the traits I described above. It is possible that their ability to relate to the team (or me) was coloured by culture, none the less it is imperative for a tech lead to understand and adapt to the culture of their team. This way if you are a 1x tech lead of five developers, perhaps together you can all be twice as productive.