The Emotional Journey of Leaving the Code Behind

Jos Koomen
3 min readNov 7, 2023

Transitioning from a developer to a manager is akin to navigating a new programming language — it’s unfamiliar, occasionally daunting, but immensely rewarding when proficiency is achieved. This blog post outlines the transformative journey, based on my own experience, shedding light on the nuanced shift from hands-on coding to leading a team of developers.

From Code to People: Adjusting Your Focus

The initial phase of this transition is often marked by a sense of nostalgia. Developers live and breathe code; it is an extension of their creative and logical expression. To move away from this comfort zone and to delegate these tasks to others can feel like leaving behind a part of oneself. I recall a time when the sound of keystrokes was a symphony I conducted effortlessly. As a manager, however, my tools changed to strategy and oversight, and the music took on a different tone.

The Bittersweet Handover: Passing on Your ‘Code Baby’

There’s a particular moment that stands out on this journey — the handover of your code. It’s akin to watching your child ride a bike for the first time without training wheels. This code, once a canvas for your ingenuity and hard work, now must be entrusted to the care of others. The apprehension is palpable; will they nurture it with the same dedication? Will they understand the intricacies of its structure? I remember watching a junior developer take over a project I had started, feeling a mix of pride and concern, like a parent at the school gates. It’s a profound exercise in trust and letting go, understanding that your ‘code baby’ will grow and change in the hands of others.

Navigating Doubt and New Responsibilities

Doubt is a natural companion in this journey. Excellence in code does not immediately translate into excellence in management. The stark contrast between solving programming problems and solving people problems can be jarring. Once, in a heated team discussion, I found myself reaching for a non-existent ‘ctrl+z’ (or cmd+z 😉) to undo a communication mishap — proof that old habits die hard.

The Human Element: Leadership over Lines of Code

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Jos Koomen

I am a Motivator, Leader, Software developer and Family man. Iʼm passionate about shaping engineering teams so they can build great products.