The best frontline eng managers in the world are the ones that are never more than 2-3 years removed from hands-on work, full time down in the trenches. The best individual contributors are the ones who have done time in management.
And the best technical leaders in the world are often the ones who do both. Back and forth. Like a pendulum.
That’s one of the only ways you can achieve the temporary glory of a hybrid manager+tech lead. This is an unstable combination, because your engineering skills and context-sharpness are decaying the longer you do it.
I have been on my latest hybrid manager + tech lead gig for a few months shy of two years now – it’s not the first time for me by any stretch. It was incredibly validating to hear this swinging back and forth that I do as NORMAL.
The article concludes correctly: