#38 - Intentional Technical Leadership

Newsletter - Saturday, 7 January 2023

Hey my friend!

Happy New Year! 🎉

Welcome to another issue of the Intentional Technical Leadership newsletter.

How are you doing? I hope you took some time out to enjoy the holidays with your friends and family. Let's kick off 2023 with a bang! 🚀

In this week's issue, we'll explore the challenges and lessons learned by engineering managers as they transition into leadership roles for the first time, and also for those moving into more senior roles.

Whether you're a new manager, an engineer considering a move into management, or just curious about what goes on in a manager's head, these articles have something for you.

So let's dive in and learn more together!

🔖 Interesting Reading

What is strategic leadership and why does it matter? — Lena Reinhard

This was an interesting read from Lena Reinhard, a leadership coach and ex-VP of Engineering at Circle CI.

It explores what strategic leadership is and helps you to understand how to set goals and priorities as a senior leader. She shares some good ideas on differentiating between strategy and tactics and how to set future goals for your team or company.

She shares her three golden rules of strategic leadership:

  • leading daily from an idea of the future
  • being able to balance long-term vision with short-term actions
  • being adaptable and open to change

While I don't necessarily operate at a company-wide strategy level yet, it's a really useful article for helping me to think about a longer term roadmap for my team and how to set goals and priorities for the next few months.

Principles of Engineering Management

This blog post by Tilo Mitra, an engineering manager at Square, is a great introduction to software engineering management if you're a new manager, or looking to make the leap into management from an engineering role.

I always find it useful to read about the experiences and challenges that other engineering managers have faced so I can learn from them and adapt my own approach.

A key learning which I always tell new managers is that transitioning from a software engineer to manager is sometimes difficult. People often think of it as the next step from a senior engineering role but they require different skillsets and provide different levels of fulfillment.

You also have to like working with people! 😄

There are some great tips for new managers which I think are really important:

  • being open to learning
  • seeking out a mentor
  • and remembering to take care of yourself!

Let me know if you've got any tips from your own experiences in a transition to technical leadership.

5 lessons for new senior engineering managers

Leading on from the last article, here's another great post from Ankita Kulkarni on the LeadDev blog sharing the challenges and lessons learned by new senior engineering managers.

If you're already an engineering manager, and you're starting to take more responsibility, this is a great read to help you understand the challenges that you might face.

Ankita shares some great suggestions and advice on increasing your impact as a senior manager. I particularly like the idea of focusing on outcomes rather than tasks and the tactical day-to-day work. Sometimes that gets lost when you're in the weeds of a project.

In today's fast moving tech industry environment, it's important to be a leader, not a boss, and to create a safe, coaching environment for your team. This is something I really care about and I'm always looking for ways to improve my own leadership skills.

Let me know if you find the article useful. What was your key takeaway?

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

👓 Read more of my technical leadership articles on my website.

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