In the bustling tech landscape, leadership roles hold immense power to shape project trajectories and team dynamics. But when it comes to hiring tech managers, a heated debate swirls around their skillset: should they be developers first?

A 2023 survey by Indeed found that 75% of tech hiring managers favor candidates with both leadership and coding skills. Stanford’s 2022 study on “Effective Engineering Management” revealed that teams led by managers with deep technical expertise reported 23% higher productivity and 15% lower defect rates. It seems like code-wielding leaders hold the key to unlocking exceptional performance.

Yet, concerns whisper on the other side of the keyboard. A 2024 Harvard Business Review report cautioned against overemphasizing technical skills, highlighting the potential for micromanagement and neglect of essential leadership skills like communication, delegation, and strategic vision.

So, are developer-first managers the dream team? Stay tuned for a thought-provoking journey into the future of tech leadership and empower you to make informed decisions for your own tech team.

Hiring Tech Managers

Should Tech Managers be Developers First ?

There are various aspects to consider while deciding or taking a certain stance as an organization; specifically for this role.


1.  Developer experience equips managers with in-depth knowledge of software development processes, tools, and methodologies. This allows them to better understand team challenges, make informed decisions, and communicate effectively with developers.

2. Being able to “code in the trenches” earns managers respect and credibility from their teams. Developers appreciate leaders who understand their technical language and challenges firsthand.

3. Managers with development skills can sometimes troubleshoot issues and contribute directly to problem-solving, potentially reducing bottlenecks and speeding up project progress.

4. Developer experience fosters better collaboration with other technical teams like QA, DevOps, and security. Managers can bridge the gap and advocate for developers’ needs within the broader technical ecosystem.

5. Tech managers who are technically skilled are in a much better position to implement code quality checks and promote a culture of ‘clean’ code.

6. It takes the eyes of a skilled and experienced developer to identify security loopholes or vulnerabilities which might have been skipped over by the development team.


1.  A developer-centric background can sometimes lead to overemphasis on technical details at the expense of broader leadership skills like team management, conflict resolution, and strategic decision-making.

2.  Managers might rely too heavily on their own technical skills instead of effectively delegating tasks and trusting their team’s expertise. This can hinder team growth and limit potential.

3. Balancing coding responsibilities with management duties can be challenging, potentially leading to burnout and hindering effectiveness in both areas.

4. Focusing solely on developer-managers might exclude talented candidates with strong leadership skills but less technical expertise, potentially narrowing the talent pool.

The Shift Towards Tech-Savvy Leadership and the Rise of the Flatter Organization

The winds of change are sweeping through larger organizations, like Meta prompting a significant move: the reshaping of leadership roles and hierarchies. Report says, Meta is asking some managers not to be managers or quit.

As companies strive for faster decision-making and increased agility, they’re opting for flatter structures, and that means some managers and directors might be asked to transition into new roles.

This strategic shift isn’t about downsizing or simply removing individuals. It’s about creating a leadership landscape that aligns with the evolving needs of the modern business environment.
Flattening the hierarchy and empowering teams removes unnecessary layers of bureaucracy, leading to quicker decisions and improved responsiveness to market demands.

However, navigating this transition requires a focus on developing and recruiting leadership equipped with the necessary skills and mindset. This means prioritizing tech-savvy managers who understand the digital landscape, can leverage data-driven insights for informed decision-making, and possess the agility to adapt to constant change.

Flatter organizations require leaders who can guide, influence, and empower rather than simply manage. Hiring the right tech managers with these qualities becomes paramount for companies seeking to navigate the complexities of the digital age and emerge stronger, more nimble, and future-proof.

Wrapping Up:

Ultimately, organizations should consider a balanced approach that combines the strengths of both technical experts and experienced managers. This may involve creating career paths that allow developers to continue to grow and excel in their technical roles while providing opportunities for those who aspire to take on managerial responsibilities. At the same time being into active development does need constant skill upgradation and requires keeping in touch with the latest updates of hot technology trends.

By nurturing both technical and managerial talent, organizations can achieve a harmonious blend of expertise that drives innovation and success.

Remember, from an organizational point of view both roles are valuable and contribute to the growth and success of the organization. Embrace the path that aligns with your skills, interests, and aspirations.



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