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I am a software engineer working in the states. It is common to hear people referring to the most senior individual contributor as the team lead or the tech lead of the team.

I always wonder why we don't say "tech leader" and "team leader" (at least not as often)? However it is also common to hear people use the term "engineering leader" to refer to someone who is in a managerial role at a tech company. Do these two words "lead" and "leader" have different connotations?

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No, this is just a business idiom.

Many trades have their own cant. In this case the word is "lead" not "leader". There is no obvious reason why.

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    It may also be a case of AmE v BrE. I the UK I often heard "team leader" rather than "team lead". Jan 1, 2023 at 1:32

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