#34 - Intentional Technical Leadership

Newsletter - Saturday, 3 December 2022

He my friend!

Happy Saturday! πŸŽ‰

Welcome to another issue of the Intentional Technical Leadership newsletter.

How are you all doing?

It's been a tough week in tech here at Netlify. You may have read online that there were some layoffs in the past few days. Myself and my team weren't affected directly but it's been really sad to see some of our fantastic colleagues lose their jobs.

Startup life can be tough but being resilient is a key part of it. As an engineering manager, you have to take onboard the stress of your team and help them through situations like these. It's not easy but it's an incredibly important part of your job.

You also need to ensure that you're supported. Make sure you build out a network of peers that you can lean on when things get tough. Building your support network is key to being a resilient leader.

So this weekend I'm going to attempt to calm the mind and catch up with some friends. I hope you get some time to relax and read this newsletter too!

πŸ”– Interesting Reading

My energy is a linear function, until it isn’t - The Engineering Manager

With everything that happened this week, my energy is pretty low right now, so this article from James Stanier, Director of Engineering at Shopify, really resonated.

In it he talks about understanding how to manage and be mindful of your habits and behaviours which increase or decrease your energy levels throughout the week.

I can definitely see that my sleeping and meeting patterns definitely affect my energy levels. I had back-to-back meetings on Friday afternoon and I was completely drained by the end of the day.

James shares some good tips for noticing and managing your energy and it's something that I'm going to try and be more mindful of this week.

Six creative ways to use coaching questions

I'll be the first to admit that my 1:1s often take the same format. I ask my team how they're doing, how I can help them in their role, and what they need from me.

I think I'm good at asking questions but I think I'm sometimes more focused on mentorship and not coaching. Asking the right questions is key to unlocking your coaching skills.

This article from Lara Hogan shares some great tips for asking questions that will help your team grow and bring out your inner coach. It's definitely something I need to practice more.

πŸ‘‰ Click here to download Lara's 20 great open questions checklist which you can use as part of your 1:1s.

πŸ“Ί Worth Watching

Amy Edmondson on Leading Up & Creating Psychological Safety

One thing I really care about in my role as an engineering manager is creating a safe environment for my team to thrive in. I want them to feel comfortable to speak up and share their ideas without feeling like they're not listened too.

This video from Amy Edmondson, Professor at Harvard Business School, talks about the importance of psychological safety in the workplace and how to create it.

She makes a really important point about being a leader, a role which someone has, versus leadership, which is a behaviour we can all have. Enabling everyone to have a leadership voice in a team is incredibly important. Make sure that everyone's opinion matters.

It's a short video but worth a watch.

Stop saying SOFT skills

This is another great quick video from Simon Sinek. In it he talks about how we need to stop using the term "soft skills".

The implication that there are "hard" (how to do your job) vs "soft" (how to deal with people) skills pits them against each other. Both are valuable to do your job well so instead he suggests using the term "human skills".

There's definitely a feeling in some tech companies that human skills are less valuable than your technical expertise so anything that encourages people to value them more is a good thing.

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,

Senior Engineering Manager @ Netlify

πŸ‘“ Read more of my technical leadership articles on my website.

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