#6 - Intentional Technical Leadership

Newsletter - Saturday, 14 May 2022

Ciao my friend!

Happy Saturday morning!

It's time for another issue of the Intentional Technical Leadership newsletter.

I hope you've had a great week and have learned something new.

This week I've been thinking about how I can enable my team to do their best work in a constantly changing environment. Not an easy task!

Here are another selection of curated technical leadership articles for your enjoyment.

🔖 Interesting Reading

The four habits of highly effective teams

This is a great article on how to build a an effective team by focusing on the team culture. It's something I've always tried to drive within any teams that I lead.

Building psychological safety and empathy within the team is really important. I've found that sharing your own challenges can really help the team to feel comfortable with sharing their feelings and builds a team who know it's ok to not be ok.

🎧 Great Listening

Episode 1 | A Changing Engineering Landscape

I listened to the first episode of the Developing Leadership podcast in the car the other day. I thought this initial episode was absolutely fantastic.

In it, the hosts share their thoughts around having technical leaders on the board of companies and what that means for the engineering teams. It's fascinating to hear that engineering teams were once an expense for a company and not considered to be a key department.

There is also a great discussion around agile ways of working and systems thinking and what they mean for engineering leadership.

👉🏻 If you only listen to one podcast this week, listen to this!

📺 Worth Watching

How to Take Great Engineers & Make Them Great Technical Leaders • Courtney Hemphill • GOTO 2017

You'll have to take notes when watching this video. It's a wonderful presentation from Courtney Hemphill about creating great technical leaders.

There are so many great points in this video.

It talks about alignment of the team, building a great culture, creating autonomous shared accountability, and much, much more.

Watch it with your notepad! 🗒️

Why Middle Management is the Hardest Job | Simon Sinek

I really do enjoy Simon Sinek's talks. He always has an interesting angle on whatever he discusses.

He shares his thoughts about middle management and how they struggle with tactical vs strategic thinking. They are often promoted to manage a team yet nobody teaches them about leadership.

There has never been a truer sentence than this:

"Most things break in the middle!"

👋🏻 One From Me

Share your network

I wrote this article after seeing a fantastic talk by Pat Kua at a Lead Developer conference. One of the key takeaways that resonated with me was how leaders could affect a huge impact by sharing their networks.

Whenever I have 1:1s with my new team members, I always tell them to build out their own network of people. I try to introduce them to unknown colleagues who can help to grow them in their careers. These people could be other software developers, senior stakeholders, product owners, or other people who may share different views and perspectives.

Building out your own network and then sharing it with others is a super skill you should work on.

🌶️ Hot Take

Cindy Sridharan on Twitter

Engineering Managers should be technical

Elon Musk is busy stirring up Twitter as he attempts to buy it.

In this tweet, Cindy Sridharan comments on Elon's tweet about technical leaders and says:

"Managers should be able to code and be technical."

I'm always torn on this.

Amazing engineers shouldn't always move into management positions as their next promotion. Managing a technical team definitely needs someone who understands and can help to grow people.

This isn't a promotion but actually a different role.

However, I do think that engineering manager role can involve an element of technical knowledge. Being technical can help you to bring together technical stakeholders, and allows you to represent the team in technical discussions. You shouldn't necessarily be the technical expert, but using your knowledge, you should be able to find the person who is.

What do you think? Should engineering leaders come from a strong technical background or not?

I hope you enjoyed this week's selection of intentional technical leadership articles. I'm really enjoying curating them each week.

Hit reply and let me know which articles you enjoy and which you don't.

Have a wonderful rest of your week and please send me any interesting articles you find while you're browsing the net. 🙏🏻

Speak to you soon,

Engineering Manager @ Beacon

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