How To Rise into a Senior Engineering Leadership Position
VP, Engineering at Doctrine
When you are managing IC's, you are not expected to do the same thing as when you grow into a position where you manage managers. The changes are often subtle and overlooked, but their outcomes tend to be very impactful.
- Growing managers need to focus on things that matter the most, having the 80-20 Pareto law in mind. As a matter of fact, 20% of your work brings 80% of your results and it's important to avoid all the noise that comes along with being a manager. Knowing the difference between what is important and what is urgent is mission-critical.
- As my scope of responsibilities has grown over the past few years, I had to delegate as much as I could in order to be able to scale my teams. As the number of teams you manage increase, you should absolutely avoid becoming a bottleneck.
- Regarding my personal growth, I often look at the most positively impactful teams and leaders in my company and in our industry while wondering what makes them successful. I'm keen to understand how they act and what they do, without replicating them, but rather adapting my own style when relevant. Learning from others' successes and failures is extremely useful.
- When managing a single team of individual contributors, you're often aware of every single topic in detail, even if you don't handle all of them directly. When managing multiple teams, this is another story and you should be comfortable with this, not trying to remain what you used to be.
"Growing managers need to focus on things that matter the most, having the 80-20 Pareto law in mind."
"As my scope of responsibilities has grown over the past few years, I had to delegate as much as I could in order to be able to scale my teams."
- As a manager of managers, your job is to delegate almost everything you can delegate. When you are managing IC's, it is okay to fill the gaps a little bit and to rely on yourself, but when you are in a senior leadership position and in charge of managers, it is really important to hire the right people to fill the gaps for you.
- Understanding what makes other leads successful and adapting your own best practices around that will help you meet the expectations being held for you.
- It is absolutely critical to avoid micromanaging your teams.
- As an engineering manager in a team, you are used to being in every discussion. You will no longer have time for this, and likewise, are not expected to continue in this role. The teams that you are leading should now deal with this.
- It helps with growth when you have a long term vision that you want your direct reports to take your position at some point. Your team members grow and by doing that, you also grow yourself, which allows you more time to think about the bigger picture and move into other positions.
- As you focus on things that matter and not listen to all the noise, you see that you have more time to think about the things that will grow your team, the company, and your impact on all of that.
- You will only be recognized on 20 percent of your work. I have been recognized in the past few years on my 20 percent while I could see some of my peers doing a lot more without recognition for the additional work because it wasn't the work that mattered the most.
Be notified about next articles from Jonathan Tiret
VP, Engineering at Doctrine
Connect and Learn with the Best Eng Leaders
We will send you a weekly newsletter with new mentors, circles, peer groups, content, webinars,bounties and free events.