#23 - Intentional Technical Leadership
Newsletter - Saturday, 17 September 2022
Aloha my friend!
Happy Saturday! 🎉
Welcome to another issue of the Intentional Technical Leadership newsletter.
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I'm writing this from the beautiful island of Maui, Hawaii.
It's a wonderful island even if I'm incredibly jet lagged from an 11 hour time zone difference with the UK. 😴
I've been incredibly lucky to enjoy a week of meeting most of my Netlify colleagues from around the world. The senior leadership team have been helping us to understand the successes and challenges of 2022 and shared the goals and direction for 2023.
I've thoroughly enjoyed spending time bonding with my team in between meetings. Swimming in the Pacific Ocean with all of the team you manage is something you don't forget! 🏊♂️🤿🐬🐠
It's been wonderful to embrace the Hawaiian culture too.
Whilst I love remote work, it's been great to meet everyone in person and help to build stronger relationships. I think it'll bring us all closer together as we work together to build an even greater company when we return home.
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The links in this week's issue will be really helpful for anyone who's about to move into engineering management. It's often hard to understand what a manager's role is and how to become a better technical leader so these blog posts should help if you're struggling to learn.
I hope you enjoy this week's issue and have a great weekend!
🔖 Interesting Reading
This is really useful introduction to engineering management from Christoph Nakazawa, an experienced engineering manager who has worked at Meta and Stripe.
He shares his knowledge around the challenges you may face when you start leading a team for the first time. There may be broken team dynamics which you'll have to pull apart and rebuild. Or you may have to manage underperforming team members for the first time. These can be tricky if you've never thought about them before.
Christoph also talks about priority setting and building trust and great team relationships. You may also need to deal with those tricky situations like managing and embracing a changing organisational direction or how to ensure team accountability or recognition.
This is a really great article on getting started but is also really useful for more experienced leaders to refresh or learn more. Take notes!
Charity Majors is the CTO of Honeycomb and an experienced engineering leader and I love reading her work.
In this article, she writes about career development for engineering managers. The career path of an individual contributor (IC) can be easier to define as you have a framework based around computing domains and technical skills to assess people against. Learning to be a better manager can often feel quite vague as "being a good manager" isn't as easy to define.
In this blog post, she shares some great ideas around better communication and building a trusted peer group of other managers who get together regularly. This has been a key piece of advice for me over the years as it's good to share thoughts with others who may be going through similar, or have done it before. As she says in her article:
Investing in your public speaking and broadcasting skills is a super power that she mentions. I found that I really increased my impact as an engineering manager once I embraced being more vocal about what both I and my team did. I'm always a team's biggest cheerleader but don't forgot to share what you're doing too.
Listening and learning are a key part of being a better manager so this article with help you a lot.
If you're just starting off on your journey of becoming an engineering manager then you might be looking for your first role.
This is an incredibly useful article to help you to build out a solid engineering manager resume. This is 100% the thing that I got wrong when I first started my move into management roles!
My original resume was focused around the technical aspects of my role rather than sharing my leadership qualities and highlighting the impact I had on the business.
The article gives tips on how to better demonstrate your continuous growth in your role. Focusing on things like cross-functional skills and quantifying your achievements will really help your resume to stand out.
Read the article and get updating!
🌶️ Hot Take
This article by Sarah Drasner, Director of Web Engineering at Google, really resonated with me.
As an experienced technical leader, she shares her wisdom on building a successful team by avoiding the "I" versus "them" divide. Some managers think is appropriate to blame their teams for failures, when it's definitely not.
Your team is "we" not "I" and "them".
You are the driving force of your team and what happens with them is your responsibility. I ❤️ this.
She shares some really great insights which I thought were fantastic and these two really got me thinking:
As Sarah says:
Saying "we" holds you accountable to your team for leadership decisions that you are a part of, which is how it should be.
As someone who wants to see all of my team members succeed, I really love this post.
That's it for this week and I hope you enjoyed this selection of of intentional technical leadership articles.
Hit reply and let me know if you found any interesting insights in the articles.
Feel free to send me any interesting articles, videos, 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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