light My Insights: When you transition from Individual Contributor (IC) to a Leadership role, make it explicit that you cannot be a full-time maker. This is one of the most common (if not the most common) and recurrent “mistakes” I see people making: continue working on a team as a full-time member/engineer, while having a full-time Leadership role. It is also important for managers to explicitly discuss this with people starting in these Leadership roles (e.g.: Tech Leads) and make it clear that they should work in a “partial mode” on a team or teams, and mostly focus on helping to bring clarity to those teams, and with that become a “multiplier of makers”.

Analysis & Summary

First entry on the Technical Leadership section of this first record and who else should be here if not one of my top references when it comes to the topic of Technical Leadership: Patrick Kua. I am sure I am going to cover many other entries in this section from Patrick as he does not stop creating top notch content and insights on how to be a better Technical Leader and manage all the many dimensions of such a role.

In this particular article he explores something extremely important: the Maker and Multiplier operating modes that people working on Software Development have. Maker is the predominant operating mode of Engineers and Individual Contributors: solve the problem at hand, applying the best approach and spending the time needed to make it happen. This mode tends to mostly be about “the self” making the work. When transitioning to a leadership role, the maker mode (that makes engineers / individual contributors successful) becomes one of the top sources of issues, especially because it tends to focus on “self” instead of the team they work with. This focus on “self” as a leader means less time/space to support the team and to a continuous struggle to keep up with the work on the team (and the work that needs to happen outside the team). When transitioning to a leadership role it is important to adapt the operating mode, and focus on being a “multiplier” of the teams you are leading and “enabling”. If you do it well, you multiply your impact.

Patrick has written and provided a lot of resources on this topic, make sure to check his articles, courses, newsletter and also his book “Talking with Tech Leads” (find my review of the book here).