Step Out of the Way to Allow Engineers Thrive

Chandra Kalle

Head of Engineering at LeanTaaS



One of the important aspects of engineering leadership is to create an environment and ecosystem where passionate engineers can thrive. As Daniel Pink explains in his book 'Drive', human motivation is largely intrinsic, and seeks autonomy, mastery, and purpose. This is especially true for engineers. But creating such an environment is challenging especially for junior engineers who come with lots of ideas and energy.

Actions taken

I faced a situation early on when a junior engineer - smart and energetic - came to me with a bold idea - to rewrite a critical component we had been living with. He clearly articulated all the problems with it and wanted to redo it from scratch and made a case for it. I knew it had to be rewritten at some point but wasn't sure about him doing it - even though his arguments made sense, deep inside I wasn't sure about him doing it. He was great but he hadn't undertaken anything like this before. But I decided to ignore my bias and let go of fear and let him do it - I asked him to do it in a fully isolated environment and once we get it working there and tested thoroughly we can consider merging it. He started working on it and showing me his progress on a weekly basis. Week after week, I was blown away by his incremental approach, design, attention to detail, and how this was shaping up overall. Once it was all done and ready to go, he spent an entire weekend launching it to production and making sure that everything worked fine.

Lessons learned

When someone is passionate about doing something bold, and your existing biases and fears tell you that it's too risky, let go of them for a minute and switch to their side of the table. Find a way to let them try. You could be pleasantly surprised. As the saying goes, not taking risks can be a lot costlier than taking risks and failing.

Be notified about next articles from Chandra Kalle

Chandra Kalle

Head of Engineering at LeanTaaS

Engineering LeadershipLeadership DevelopmentCommunicationOrganizational StrategyDecision MakingCulture DevelopmentEngineering ManagementTechnical ExpertiseOvercoming BiasIndividual Contributor Roles

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.


HomeCircles1-on-1 MentorshipBounties

© 2024 Plato. All rights reserved

LoginSign up