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The Subtle Dynamics Of Leading Without Authority As A Technical Lead

The Subtle Dynamics Of Leading Without Authority As A Technical Lead

Meritocracy: a political philosophy which holds that power should be vested in individuals almost exclusively according to merit.

If you're reading the above, nodding your head, wishing it was the case in your situation maybe I can help. I'd like to offer some ideas and tips for the struggles Technical Leads or Senior Engineers are facing:

* How can you leverage your skills to move the organization when you don't have the authority?
* What should you pay attention to when giving an advice?
* What can you do to get your concrete suggestions deployed to production instead of perish in the source control?
* How should you work with your manager to plan and execute an agenda you actually believe in?

If you enjoyed the slides, you'd probably like my "hobbies":
http://softwareleadweekly.com/
http://leadingsnowflakes.com/

Oren Ellenbogen

October 07, 2015
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  1. The Subtle
    Dynamics Of
    Leading Without
    Authority As A
    Technical Lead

    @orenellenbogen

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  2. Lets
    Talk
    Tech

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  3. “ My ideas
    are solid. ”

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  4. “ All we
    need to do
    is to use
    micro-
    services ”

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  5. (how it really
    felt like)

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  6. @orenellenbogen
    Head of Engineering at

    I also got hobbies:
    http://SoftwareLeadWeekly.com/
    http://LeadingSnowflakes.com/

    http://lnbogen.com/

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  7. TRUST

    ONE WORD

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  8. BUIDLING
    ONE TWO WORDS
    TRUST

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  9. [1] Willingness to build trust.

    [2] Good faith.

    [3] Mature people.

    3 ASSUMPTIONS:

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  10. BUILDING
    TRUST
    WITH
    YOUR
    TEAMMATES and get a cool t-shirt too!

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  11. “Got a bullet
    stuck where?

    Lets talk
    about your
    diet first”


    PAIN LEVEL AWARENESS

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  12. Before you enter your next meeting:
    What is your role in the discussion?
    CONTEXT AWARENESS
    <1> OWNER
    <2> CONSULTANT
    <3> PREACHER

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  13. •  You’re responsible for the
    delivery & outcome.
    •  Lead the agenda and direction.
    •  Set an example.
    <1> OWNER

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  14. •  You’re here to assist.
    •  Don’t steal their thunder.
    •  Be concise and pragmatic.
    <2> CONSULTANT

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  15. •  You were not requested.
    •  You will rarely understand their
    underlying pains.
    •  Help them imagine how it can be
    like, step by step. Carefully.
    <3> PREACHER

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  16. Before you enter your next meeting:
    What is your role in the discussion?
    CONTEXT AWARENESS
    <1> OWNER
    <2> CONSULTANT
    <3> PREACHER

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  17. BE AVAILABLE
    If you’re communicating panic,
    don’t be surprised when people
    stop showing up.

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  18. BUSY IS AN ADDICTION
    Block X hours every day, to
    have that mental capacity to
    listen and assist.

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  19. Lift your teammates' skills.

    People want to be around others
    who make them better. Be that
    person.


    TEACH TO EDUCATE,
    NOT TO CONVINCE

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  20. The only way to really scale
    something is to distribute it.
    TEACH TO EDUCATE,
    NOT TO CONVINCE

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  21. KENT BECK:
    “ When you're the senior
    in junior/senior pair
    programming, the measure
    of your success is how
    much the junior learns ”

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  22. Pragmatic vs theoretical balance?
    Overshadowing others?
    Stealing “interesting” work?


    Be sincere and people will open up.
    CREATE A
    FEEDBACK LOOP

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  23. DEFAULTING TO POSITIVE
    Help them see how it can work,
    instead of only pointing
    fingers on the ways they will
    probably fail.

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  24. “ $440b company just radically
    changed corp structure to
    advantage innovation while you
    debate whether your VP will
    like slide 14 of the ppt ”

    (on Google à Alphabet)
    HUNTER WALK:

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  25. <1> PAIN AWARENESS
    <2> CONTEXT AWARENESS
    <3> BE AVAILABLE
    <4> TEACH TO EDUCATE
    <5> CREATE FEEDBACK LOOP
    <6> DEFAULTING TO POSITIVE
    RECAP:
    Building trust with your teammates

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  26. BUILDING
    TRUST
    WITH
    YOUR
    MANAGER

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  27. PROBLEM > SOLUTION(S)

    Figure out how you can help your
    manager and company win.

    Understand immediate pains vs long-
    term strategy.




    BUSINESS AWARENESS

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  28. Reduce managerial load.

    Help estimate & prioritize
    Technical Debt. Own the backlog.



    OWN CODE QUALITY

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  29. OWN CODE QUALITY
    “ The thing about coding is,
    there's always bugs. It's
    always semi-fucked. “
    -- Stewart Brand

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  30. •  Fighting instead of collaborating?
    •  Explicit assumptions.
    •  Ask for clarifications.
    ARTICULATE MISMATCH

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  31. •  Why?
    •  Why now?
    •  What can go wrong?
    •  Milestones?
    •  Backup plan?
    •  Rough estimations?
    •  Can you own it?


    PATH > DESTINATION

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  32. Organizational communication is
    built around estimations and
    milestones to create alignment.

    Don’t be a buffer.



    PUSH > PULL INFORMATION

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  33. Writing is the best way to improve
    your thinking.

    Communication skills are underrated.


    WRITE MORE OFTEN

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  34. •  Status & TL;DR
    •  Postmortems
    •  Internal Wiki
    •  Blog posts
    •  Quora / StackOverflow
    WRITE MORE OFTEN

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  35. <1> BUSINESS AWARENESS
    <2> OWN CODE QUALITY
    <3> ARTICULATE MISMATCH
    <4> PATH > DESTINATION
    <5> PUSH > PULL INFORMATION
    <6> WRITE MORE OFTEN
    RECAP:
    Building trust with your manager

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  36. PRACTICE
    WHAT NOW?

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  37. THANK YOU


    WE’RE HIRING!
    @orenellenbogen
    [email protected]

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