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💻 The Tech Lead EM
She has a strong focus on technical guidance and architecture. She’s very hands-on with the codebase, doing code reviews, making architecture choices. She usually leads a small team of 4-5 engineers at max.
👥 The Team Lead EM
She has a strong focus on the team’s activities, communication, and cross-functional collaboration. She works closely with a tech lead or a senior engineer for technical aspects. She usually leads a larger team or two smaller ones.
🔄 The Delivery EM
She has a strong focus on the delivery process, the planning activities, the project management, and cross-functional communication. She works closely with a tech lead. She usually coordinates the work of several teams.
⚠ Beware of stereotypes!
These archetypes are stereotypes. Each organization will have its own expectations when it comes to its EMs. They will likely be a different mix of the previous over-simplified definitions. There is no one size fits all.
When you undertake this role, the common practice is to start by taking care of a small team gathering 3 to 5 engineers. It’s uncommon to start with several teams, or with teammates scattered across different teams, but it may happen.
A seasoned EM can be in charge of a larger team or several teams, working with up to 8 to 10 engineers. Handling more teammates is unlikely, but it may happen during a hyper-growth phase or to handle a management transition.
To be successful in this position, you'll need to understand the expectations and priorities in your given context. What matters is to be the engineering manager that your organization needs.
📖 The excellent article 5 Engineering Manager Archetypes by Pat Kua will help to figure out what is the definition in your own organization.