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Power, Influence and Authority in Engineering Leadership - Dinosaur.js

Power, Influence and Authority in Engineering Leadership - Dinosaur.js

Leadership opportunities are available at all levels of an organization, but some are more evident or clearly defined than others. Helping an organization achieve its goals may require us to step up as engineering leaders. As individual contributors, we may be able to support our team in negotiating the scope of a feature, facilitating a meeting or looking into that part of our codebase everyone shies away from. How about improving processes, helping define the culture or even the career journey of an organization? Do we need to be managers to have explicit authority to be agents of change? Maybe ... or maybe not

This talk explores different challenges that engineering teams have through the lens of power, influence or authority from the perspective of engineers or managers. If you've ever wondered if you should step into management, this talk can give you some insight into the right tool or role needed to be an agent for positive change. After this talk, you should have a better idea of whether making the management career change can give you the tools you need to grow and help others in the process.

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Juan Pablo Buriticá

June 21, 2018
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Transcript

  1. ! Power, Influence and Authority in Engineering Leadership @buritica

  2. None
  3. None
  4. "Juan, I think I want to go into Engineering Management"

    — an engineer
  5. Why?

  6. "I would like to help my team move forward" —

    same engineer
  7. Why would management allow you to make change?

  8. "Because I would have authority" — same engineer

  9. ! Not so fast

  10. What kinds of change are you looking for?

  11. None
  12. None
  13. None
  14. None
  15. Authority

  16. Authority the power or right to give orders, make decisions,

    and enforce
  17. None
  18. ! Authority

  19. Authority the power to influence others, especially because of one's

    commanding manner or one's recognized knowledge about something.
  20. ! Authority

  21. What authority does an engineer have?* * in a "healthy"

    org
  22. Authority Conventionally, authority is legitimate ⚡ power

  23. By hiring you confer legitimate power over a technical domain

  24. Authority of an IC function individualContributor () { let authority

    = ['technical-domain'] }
  25. Authority is not static

  26. Experience can modify authority

  27. Autonomy of an IC function individualContributor () { let authority

    = ['technical-domain'] if (experienced) { authority.push('own-time') } }
  28. Experience as a modifier • JR IC: little authority over

    their time • Sr Eng: some authority over their time and other's time • Staff Eng: full authority over their time and some over other's
  29. Modifiers vary depending on company, org, team, and even manager

  30. So I can change all the softwares?

  31. Maybe...

  32. How much does your team trust you ...

  33. ... and what is your scope of influence?

  34. Everytime you make decisions you trade on trust

  35. Architectural decisions require higher trust than implementation ones

  36. What authority does a manager have?

  37. Authority of a manager function manager () { let authority

    = ['people, processes'] if (experienced) { authority.push('strategy') } }
  38. Autonomy of a manager function manager () { // ...

    let autonomy = authority.indexOf('own-time') authority.pop(autonomy) }
  39. So I can change all the peoples and processes?

  40. Maybe...

  41. How much does your team trust you ...

  42. What is your scope of influence?

  43. or might I say, closure?

  44. Management has authority over software through people & process

  45. Authority Closures function vp() { function director() { function manager()

    { function individualContributor(){ // software } } } }
  46. Management authority isn't enough all the time ...

  47. None
  48. ... also, authority closures don't tend to work the other

    way around
  49. Authority Closures function individualContributor() { function manager() { function director()

    { function vp(){ const compensation = '$$$' const process = 'waterfall' } } } }
  50. But sometimes, there is hope!

  51. None
  52. We all have the opportunity to step up as leaders

  53. * Disclaimer leadership takes time, effort and patience.

  54. But most importantly trust

  55. Authority Closures function individualContributor() { function manager() { function director()

    { function vp(){ const onCall = 'rotation' } } } }
  56. Building trust can help you pierce your closure

  57. Authority Closures function vp() { let oncall = 'rotation' function

    director() { function manager() { function individualContributor(){ onCall = 'team owned' } } } }
  58. None
  59. "Juan, I think I want to go into Engineering Management"

    — an engineer
  60. "So you're saying I don't need to be a manager"

    — an engineer
  61. Not entirely ...

  62. I want to encourage you to be a leader

  63. The intent of leadership is to deliver outcomes for the

    greater good
  64. We're part of an industry that has an abnormal amount

    of power to cause change in the world
  65. None
  66. Working in technology gives you authority over the future of

    people at a never before scale
  67. Knowing about your "authority closures" may give you the ability

    to focus change
  68. Stepping into management is a career change

  69. But stepping up as an IC leader is a lower

    risk way of getting experience
  70. .. and building trust

  71. None
  72. ... so that you can eventually make the change you

    want
  73. We need more and better engineering managers

  74. No matter how hard you try you will be someone's

    worst boss
  75. But it will all be worth it when you become

    someone's best boss
  76. And accept you can't change it all

  77. None
  78. Thanks @buritica

  79. Photo Credits ESMAD