Unplanned Tech Lead

I had always seen myself as a technical person. Burnout was something I enjoyed: coding late at night without distractions.

As a young engineer, my goal was to learn as much as possible and be better, smarter, and faster than the rest of my colleagues. Maybe become a respected architect within the company.

Then I realized I could not do that within the company (whatever the company was at that time.) I needed to take a leap of faith and start my own company.

By starting my own company, I had to learn sales skills, accounting, and, more important, project management. My career path changed completely. From that moment, whether I liked it or not, I became a tech lead and I came to know the tech lead burnout.

Since then, I have always played some management role, with a glimpse of nostalgia for those easier days when all I cared about was playing with new technology.

Engineer burnout is not the same as Tech lead burnout

When I was purely an engineer, the burnout would come in the form of too many hours of coding. When I was a tech lead, the burnout could come at any minute: a difficult decision about which programming language to use, a rebel team member who did not like me, a new technology I did not have time to play with, not enough time to get things done because I was having too many meetings.

I recall one honest piece of feedback from a 360 review: “I don’t know what Leo really wants”… well, all I wanted was a break.

Hit the brakes and take a break

As a tech lead, you are dealing with stress from the moment you open Slack or check your emails in the morning. That stress will build up until you are completely burned out.

Do you want an easy way to deal with it? Take breaks, code for fun, or read something. All your problems will stay there once you come back. Maybe some will solve themselves.


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Leo Celis