#22 - Intentional Technical Leadership
Newsletter - Saturday, 10 September 2022
Happy Saturday, my friend! 🎉
Welcome to another issue of the Intentional Technical Leadership newsletter.
How's your week been?
I've been getting back into work and also preparing for a team all-hands offsite meeting. While Netlify is a remote-first company, we are all meeting in real life. It'll be great to actually meet my fantastic team and colleagues in a different environment than Zoom. I can't wait to see everyone and get to know them better.
I've found some great articles this week. I've found them really useful for some of the work that I've been doing to understand how teams do their best work. I hope you can gain some insights from them too.
🔖 Interesting Reading
This is great article from ex-CTO of npm, C J Silverio which shares her insights into how to reduce friction in order to gain engineering team productivity.
There's often resistance at technology companies to stop engineering teams from reducing friction.
Features need to be implemented now - leadership says so!
The pain can wait until later - it's not really that bad!
We can't make things better - it's too hard!
CJ shares some great tips for getting buy-in from the leadership and engineering teams and making them move faster. It's a long article but definitely worth taking notes from.
I've become friends with Duncan Skelton and I really enjoy his coaching and leadership style. He's recently embarked on a regular writing challenge, similar to the one I did last year, and I'm thoroughly enjoying his blog posts and tweets.
This post is about how to become a better leader using one simple technique! 🎉
I really love Duncan's approach to leadership and his ability to break it down into simple, actionable steps. Super useful reading.
This is an interesting Medium post on management versus leadership.
The two terms often get used interchangeably when they mean different things.
We should manage things and lead people - not the other way round.
The article shares some tips on enabling your team and leading them to success which I found really useful. I love the idea that we don't need to motivate people, we need to not demotivate them.
Move the obstacles out of your team's way and watch them succeed.
This is a superb article by James Stanier, Director of Engineering at Shopify. I've really been enjoying his writing recently.
Once you become a technical leader and move out of the Individual Contributor (IC) role, your impact becomes different and it's not easy to understand what you do from day to day.
You might spend your day reading or writing documents, making decisions, prioritising work, setting directions, and removing blockers. None of them are really visible.
James shares some ideas for ensure visibility of your work when it's often intangible. It starts with better writing, something I talk about a lot, and ends with how you share this further than your own team.
Let me know if it works for you if you try some of his ideas.
🌶️ Hot Take
This is a spicy take that I don't agree with!
For me, 1:1s have always been a key way to build relationships with people in your team. They help to build trust and create a safe psychological environment for your team members.
For myself as an engineering manager, 1:1s often help me to gain new perspectives and new ideas from people. They allow me to build an understanding of any issues people are having and the direction they want their careers to head in. I can use this to coach and mentor them to help them to thrive.
What do you think?
Do you agree that 1:1s are a waste of time? Or do you find them valuable like I do?
I hope you enjoyed this week's selection of intentional technical leadership articles.
Hit reply and let me know what you think.
Feel free to send me any interesting articles or podcasts you've found as I love hearing from my readers.
Have an amazing week and be excellent to each other!
Speak to you soon,
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