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How to Establish Yourself as a New Engineering Leader

Chandra Kalle

Head of Engineering at LeanTaaS

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Problem

Joining a company as an Engineering Manager or Director, or any engineering leadership role for that matter, can be very intimidating. The people are new. The stack is new and could be something you've never worked on before. The product is new. And, the larger the team you're leading, the more eyes are on you! How do you navigate the situation, get a handle on things, and establish yourself as a leader?

Actions taken

"I've been in this situation several times and made several mistakes. I've sort of developed a framework on how to navigate this situation. First and foremost, perhaps the most important thing, be genuine and authentic."

In the absence of everything, being genuine is the only way to earn trust. Then, tactically, help the team out. Solve their immediate problems, help with designs, testing, debugging, whatever you can. In parallel, get to know the people you'll be working with, especially your direct reports. Understand what they're working on and pay close attention to who they are and what makes them tick. Then, read. Read everything you can find and understand the product and the stack. Meet with customers. Understand why they're buying the product and how it's making their life better; understand who they are.

Lessons learned

"When you join a new team, you need to earn their trust first. Start by being genuine and helpful, and invest a lot of time getting to know the people, product, architecture, and customers. Be aware, be present, and be helpful."


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Chandra Kalle

Head of Engineering at LeanTaaS


Engineering LeadershipLeadership DevelopmentCommunicationOrganizational StrategyDecision MakingCulture DevelopmentEngineering ManagementTechnical ExpertiseTechnical SkillsCareer Growth

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