Talk given at
- Rackspace SF Tech Talk: July 14, 2014
- Rackspace RAX.IO internal developer conference: Feb 23, 2015
- Code PaLOUsa: April 29, 2015
Late 2012, my manager called me in for an impromptu one-on-one. I figured that he was probably going to yell at me for not spending enough time programming or something. Instead, he wanted to talk with me about where I could take my career. He suggested I consider the idea of management as a natural use for my skills. I went home and wrote in my private journal about how they'd be crazy to make me a manager.
A year and a half later, I became the manager of a team of software engineers, after feeling out what the other options were.
This talk will share some of the things I've learned along my journey and some thoughts on leadership and management and what they mean in the world of software development.
- What leadership is not
- Some examples of what leadership is
- Introverted leadership vs Extroverted leadership
- Leadership is communication
- Leadership as the force multiplier
- Leadership is actually something everybody has to do
- The variety of leadership roles in tech
- You don't have to be a manager to advance (at least you shouldn't)
- Micro-management, something that still happens even though every book on management warns you about it
- "I did" versus "I led" versus "We did"
- "Because &$#@'s broken and I'm the boss"
- Management as the communications layer of a company
- My core value of "Affection" and what that means to me as a manager.
- Management and understanding the world outside of your team as programmers
- Unpleasant things in management and handling them with aplomb
- Where do you want to go from here?
- Demonstrating leadership, in whatever form, makes you able to be more than who you already are.
- A good manager wants to hire their replacement
Extra-credit reading list:
- The Leadership Pipeline: This helped me understand the concept of leaders who were promoted too fast. It also introduced me to the idea of a leadership transition, which I touch on in the "management is a big left turn" part of my talk.
- Managing Humans: This book introduced me to some of the ideas of what I'd do as a manager, filling in for some of the support I wasn't getting from my managers in the past. For example, I'd never had a regularly scheduled one-on-one with my manager for most of my career... and that's a problem. It's a flawed book, IMHO, drawing a little too much on the nerdly stereotypes.
- Crucial Conversations: Part of being a manager is talking painful subjects. This gives some pointers about how to have them in the real world.
- Delusions of Gender: I can give more gender-studies-related books at some later point, but this is a good introduction to everything we don't know about gender.
- Five Dysfunctions of a Team: A 'leadership fable' about management. This is more about how a manager interacts with their peers and less about how a manager interacts with their team.
- Tribal Leadership: This book expounds on why it's important to go from "I did" through "I led" to "We did".
- Snakes in suits: I felt a little sad after reading this book, because it explained a few of my more unpleasant workforce moments too well.
- Mistakes Were Made (But Not By Me): A good tour through cognitive dissonance.