SlideShare a Scribd company logo
Grow your own
tech leads
@KenScambler
We’re hiring!
Come work with me & my
friends on cool stuff
Gaps
• There’s a big difference between the skill sets of an effective
developer and an effective tech lead.
• How does an individual bridge the gap?
• How can we help them?
Perspective - developer
Organisation
Divisions
Teams
Perspective – senior developer
Organisation
Divisions
Teams
Perspective – tech lead
Organisation
Divisions
Teams
Perspective – CTO, etc
Organisation
Divisions
Teams
Helping senior developers grow
Organisation
Divisions
Teams
Expanding trust networks
Dev
Dev
Dev
Tech lead
Expanding trust networks
Tech lead
Dev
Dev
Dev
Eng Mgr
Expanding trust networks
Tech lead
Dev
Dev
Dev
Eng Mgr
Product Mgr
Expanding trust networks
Tech lead
Dev
Dev
Dev
Product Mgr
Eng Mgr
BA
Expanding trust networks
Tech lead
Dev
Dev
Dev
Product Mgr
Eng Mgr
BA
UX
Expanding trust networks
Tech lead
Dev
Dev
Dev
Product Mgr
Eng Mgr
BA
Customers
UX
What happens with trust
Alice Product Manager
I know Alice wants to help me get
my ideas in front of customers.
Knowing how the tech fits in will
help us get there sooner.
What happens with trust
Product Manager
Look, the spaceship is really
hard, it’ll take 10 years.
But… if we drop the laser guns
we can do a quadcopter in a
month.
Alice
What happens with trust
Product Manager
Look, the spaceship is really
hard, it’ll take 10 years.
But… if we drop the laser guns
we can do a quadcopter in a
month.
Ah that’s a shame. Let’s go
for the quick win then, we
can iterate from there.
Alice
What happens without trust
Product Manager
Let me guess. Alice can’t deliver on
time because of techie blah blah.
If she loved customers half as much
as shiny tech, we’d have delivered by
now.
Alice
What happens without trust
Product Manager
Look, the spaceship is really
hard, it’ll take 10 years.
But… if we drop the laser guns
we can do a quadcopter in a
month.
Alice
What happens without trust
Product Manager
Look, the spaceship is really
hard, it’ll take 10 years.
But… if we drop the laser guns
we can do a quadcopter in a
month.
Did you try this? Did you try
that? We really need to be
delivering spaceships.
I’m going to need you & the
team to really dig deep and
BELIEEEVE.
Alice
THE SECRET TO
BUILDING TRUST AND
ADVANCING YOUR
CAREER
2019 EXCLUSIVE
2019 EXCLUSIVE
Don’t be terrible
2019 EXCLUSIVE
Boss
I’ll write up
notes from
the meeting
Thanks for
that
Bilal
“I trust you to keep promises”
*Doesn’t write up
notes*
Bilal
Bilal
Seriously?? Come on!
I have important things to do
and no-one reads the notes
anyway!
Bilal
Boss
M Tu W Th F
Because you
don’t need
to eat
Boss
M Tu W Th F
Because you
don’t need
to eat
TODO: Check up on Bilal
Bilal
Boss
M Tu W Th F
Because you
don’t need
to eat
Bilal
Boss
M Tu W Th F
Bilal
Trust!
Boss
M Tu W Th F
Bilal
Carla
*WORKING HARD
ON A PROBLEM FOR
WEEKS BUT KINDA
STUCK*
“I trust you to communicate openly”
Boss
How’s that task going?
We’re all blocked.
Need help?
Nah I’m good.
80% done
Carla
Boss
…
Carla
Boss
…
Carla
Time’s up,
what have
you got so
far?
Boss
Actually
Carla
Boss
It would seem I’ve been
stuck for some time
Carla
!!!
BossCarla
Carla
You can’t be serious!
It’s done when it’s
done.
I don’t know what I
don’t know.
Carla
M T W T F M T W T F M T W T F
Started work
Carla
M T W T F M T W T F M T W T F
Started work Got stuck
Carla
M T W T F M T W T F M T W T F
Started work Got stuck Help!
Boss
EMERGENCY!
Let’s rope in
the experts
Carla
M T W T F M T W T F M T W T F
Started work Got stuck Help! DONE
Expert1
Expert2
*Domain specific
knowledge*
*Technology specific
knowledge*
We had to
drop
everything,
but we’re
here
Boss
Boss’ boss
HIGGINS YOU FOOL!
Because of your
MISCREANTS I had to
settle for platinum
*ALLOY* hubcaps on
my Lambo!!
Carla
M T W T F M T W T F M T W T F
Started work Stuck
I was off to a good
start, but it’s
harder than I
thought.
Carla
M T W T F Lots of possible options Maybe not even needed
Started work Stuck
Boss
Trust!
No sweat, plenty of
things we can do from
here.
Lmk what you need
Open communication
Dave
I need help with
my thing, could
you give me a
hand?
Colleague
“I trust you to care about my work too”
Dave
I need help with
my thing, could
you give me a
hand?
Sure, I guess
Colleague
Dave
*Weeks
pass*
DaveColleague
Did you take a look?
We’re really under
the pump now
LOL oops
DaveColleague
Dave
Look, I’m busy!
It’s really their
problem, not mine.
Colleague
Dave
Goal
Colleague
Dave
Goal
Colleague
Dave
Goal
• Sure! Here you go
• I’ll set aside some time to help
• I don’t have time, but here’s some people who
might help
• Not sure, but try reading this
Dave
Goal
Helping others build trust
• ”Don’t be terrible” needs fixing in a
shockingly high number of people
• Doesn’t mean they lack talent
• Often just a lack of self-awareness
• Easy to mentor
Insecurities around leadership
Feeling insecure:
• Does not in any way indicate a lack of talent
• Does not in any way indicate a lack of leadership potential
BUT
• Learning to manage insecurities is essential
• Consequences are exacerbated by seniority
“I’m not actually good enough…
Therefore I will not even put my hand up in the first place”
Hopefully no-
one notices
me
“I’m not actually good enough…
Therefore I will not even put my hand up in the first place”
• Personal reassurance, encouragement
• Cultivate general personal safety
• Reduce cost of speaking up
• Seek out quiet voices at meetings, balance loudest
• Be aware of various forms of privilege
Mentor suggestions:
“I’m not actually good enough…
Therefore I will massively overcompensate by any means”
I AM VERY LOUD AND IMPORTANT!
YOUR FOOLISH PRs DON’T STAND A CHANCE AGAINST
MY PETTY OBJECTIONS!
I WILL MAKE UP THINGS SO IT LOOKS LIKE I KNOW
STUFF!
“I’m not actually good enough…
Therefore I will massively overcompensate by any means”
• Immediate 1-1 advice to tone it down, increase self-awareness
• Reassure
• Requires strong trust to avoid defensive reaction
• May require removal of responsibility
Mentor suggestions
“I’m not actually good enough…
Therefore I must be as defensively opaque as possible so people don’t ask
questions”
???
“I’m not actually good enough…
Therefore I must be as defensively opaque as possible so people don’t ask
questions”
Mentor suggestions
• Can be hard to detect until it’s too late
• Personally encourage habits of openness
“I’m not actually good enough…
Therefore I am doomed and will freeze and wait for inevitable failure”
There’s no point trying
“I’m not actually good enough…
Therefore I am doomed and will freeze and wait for inevitable failure”
Mentor suggestions
• Super bad news
• Pretty hard to reverse at this point
• Removal of responsibilities likely to be a relief to all
Mistakes of inexperience: too rigid
Do it this way, or else!
I’m supposed to know more
than everyone else!
No-one will listen to me unless
I make a lot of noise
I need to advertise my
leaderiness, or my prestige will
evaporate!
It’s not your job to
know all the
answers
The team’s success
is your success
Use the skills of the
team
Mentor
Sure, I guess, let’s do
what you want, it’s
probably fine. Who am I to disagree?
They seem really confident.
I’m not a real leader
Mistakes of inexperience: too flexible
You’re ultimately
responsible, not
the other people!
Let’s go through
the reasons from
first principles
It’s ok to ask
questions, it’s not your
job to know
everything already
Mentor
Handling insecurity
• Nothing to be ashamed of per se
• Harmful flow-on effects best pre-empted with cultural change
• Strong trust bonds necessary for frank individual feedback
• Senior leaders should set an example for openness
Words are actions
!
Grow your own tech leads
Your code is bad
and you are bad
Dev
Words Actions
Awww
Dev who wrote
the code
Other devs
Whoa. Maybe
there’s something
to learn though?
I am a thoroughly
disagreeable
person
Your code is bad
and you are bad
Very senior
tech lead
Words Actions
Everyone else
ARGHGH!!!!
I am a thoroughly
disagreeable
person
This is how leaders
behave here
Stick your neck out,
this will happen to
you too
Dev who wrote
the code
Big loss of face in
front of peers
Very senior
tech lead
But they’re the exact same words!
I’m just calling it like I see it
Foo
Foo
Foo
Creating opportunities
Project 1 Project 2 Project 3
Jan Feb Mar …
Team 1 Team 3
Team 2
Creating opportunities
Project 1 Project 2 Project 3
Jan Feb Mar …
Team 1 Team 3
Team 2
Team 2
informal
tech lead
Project 1
informal
tech lead
MYOB example:
Tech Lead Groups
Front end
team
Backend
service team
API team
Desktop
team 1
Desktop
team 2
Project
Infrastructure
team
Tech Lead Group
Tech Lead Group
• Reduce decision-making workload for architects
• Increase architect visibility into teams
• Increase teams’ access to fast architecture advice & decisions
• Grow new tech leaders
Tech Lead Group
• Reduce decision-making workload for architects
• Increase architect visibility into teams
• Increase teams’ access to fast architecture advice & decisions
• Grow new tech leaders
However:
• Confusion around scope of responsibility
• Decision-maker?
• Hard to balance team-work with TLG-work
• There are a range of situational pros & cons to all the different ways
you can do this
Conclusion
• Growing tech leaders in-house is a Good Thing
• Bridging non-technical gaps is a big deal
• Wider perspective
• Building trust & relationships
• Managing insecurities appropriately
• Understanding words as actions
• Good mentoring makes a huge difference
• 1-1 coaching
• Setting an example
• Timely intervention
• Creating opportunities with informal org structure

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Grow your own tech leads

  • 1. Grow your own tech leads @KenScambler We’re hiring! Come work with me & my friends on cool stuff
  • 2. Gaps • There’s a big difference between the skill sets of an effective developer and an effective tech lead. • How does an individual bridge the gap? • How can we help them?
  • 4. Perspective – senior developer Organisation Divisions Teams
  • 5. Perspective – tech lead Organisation Divisions Teams
  • 6. Perspective – CTO, etc Organisation Divisions Teams
  • 7. Helping senior developers grow Organisation Divisions Teams
  • 9. Expanding trust networks Tech lead Dev Dev Dev Eng Mgr
  • 10. Expanding trust networks Tech lead Dev Dev Dev Eng Mgr Product Mgr
  • 11. Expanding trust networks Tech lead Dev Dev Dev Product Mgr Eng Mgr BA
  • 12. Expanding trust networks Tech lead Dev Dev Dev Product Mgr Eng Mgr BA UX
  • 13. Expanding trust networks Tech lead Dev Dev Dev Product Mgr Eng Mgr BA Customers UX
  • 14. What happens with trust Alice Product Manager I know Alice wants to help me get my ideas in front of customers. Knowing how the tech fits in will help us get there sooner.
  • 15. What happens with trust Product Manager Look, the spaceship is really hard, it’ll take 10 years. But… if we drop the laser guns we can do a quadcopter in a month. Alice
  • 16. What happens with trust Product Manager Look, the spaceship is really hard, it’ll take 10 years. But… if we drop the laser guns we can do a quadcopter in a month. Ah that’s a shame. Let’s go for the quick win then, we can iterate from there. Alice
  • 17. What happens without trust Product Manager Let me guess. Alice can’t deliver on time because of techie blah blah. If she loved customers half as much as shiny tech, we’d have delivered by now. Alice
  • 18. What happens without trust Product Manager Look, the spaceship is really hard, it’ll take 10 years. But… if we drop the laser guns we can do a quadcopter in a month. Alice
  • 19. What happens without trust Product Manager Look, the spaceship is really hard, it’ll take 10 years. But… if we drop the laser guns we can do a quadcopter in a month. Did you try this? Did you try that? We really need to be delivering spaceships. I’m going to need you & the team to really dig deep and BELIEEEVE. Alice
  • 20. THE SECRET TO BUILDING TRUST AND ADVANCING YOUR CAREER 2019 EXCLUSIVE
  • 23. Boss I’ll write up notes from the meeting Thanks for that Bilal “I trust you to keep promises”
  • 25. Bilal
  • 26. Seriously?? Come on! I have important things to do and no-one reads the notes anyway! Bilal
  • 27. Boss M Tu W Th F Because you don’t need to eat
  • 28. Boss M Tu W Th F Because you don’t need to eat TODO: Check up on Bilal Bilal
  • 29. Boss M Tu W Th F Because you don’t need to eat Bilal
  • 30. Boss M Tu W Th F Bilal Trust!
  • 31. Boss M Tu W Th F Bilal
  • 32. Carla *WORKING HARD ON A PROBLEM FOR WEEKS BUT KINDA STUCK* “I trust you to communicate openly”
  • 33. Boss How’s that task going? We’re all blocked. Need help? Nah I’m good. 80% done Carla
  • 37. Boss It would seem I’ve been stuck for some time Carla !!!
  • 39. Carla You can’t be serious! It’s done when it’s done. I don’t know what I don’t know.
  • 40. Carla M T W T F M T W T F M T W T F Started work
  • 41. Carla M T W T F M T W T F M T W T F Started work Got stuck
  • 42. Carla M T W T F M T W T F M T W T F Started work Got stuck Help! Boss EMERGENCY! Let’s rope in the experts
  • 43. Carla M T W T F M T W T F M T W T F Started work Got stuck Help! DONE Expert1 Expert2 *Domain specific knowledge* *Technology specific knowledge* We had to drop everything, but we’re here
  • 44. Boss Boss’ boss HIGGINS YOU FOOL! Because of your MISCREANTS I had to settle for platinum *ALLOY* hubcaps on my Lambo!!
  • 45. Carla M T W T F M T W T F M T W T F Started work Stuck I was off to a good start, but it’s harder than I thought.
  • 46. Carla M T W T F Lots of possible options Maybe not even needed Started work Stuck Boss Trust! No sweat, plenty of things we can do from here. Lmk what you need Open communication
  • 47. Dave I need help with my thing, could you give me a hand? Colleague “I trust you to care about my work too”
  • 48. Dave I need help with my thing, could you give me a hand? Sure, I guess Colleague
  • 50. DaveColleague Did you take a look? We’re really under the pump now LOL oops
  • 52. Dave Look, I’m busy! It’s really their problem, not mine.
  • 55. Colleague Dave Goal • Sure! Here you go • I’ll set aside some time to help • I don’t have time, but here’s some people who might help • Not sure, but try reading this
  • 57. Helping others build trust • ”Don’t be terrible” needs fixing in a shockingly high number of people • Doesn’t mean they lack talent • Often just a lack of self-awareness • Easy to mentor
  • 59. Feeling insecure: • Does not in any way indicate a lack of talent • Does not in any way indicate a lack of leadership potential BUT • Learning to manage insecurities is essential • Consequences are exacerbated by seniority
  • 60. “I’m not actually good enough… Therefore I will not even put my hand up in the first place” Hopefully no- one notices me
  • 61. “I’m not actually good enough… Therefore I will not even put my hand up in the first place” • Personal reassurance, encouragement • Cultivate general personal safety • Reduce cost of speaking up • Seek out quiet voices at meetings, balance loudest • Be aware of various forms of privilege Mentor suggestions:
  • 62. “I’m not actually good enough… Therefore I will massively overcompensate by any means” I AM VERY LOUD AND IMPORTANT! YOUR FOOLISH PRs DON’T STAND A CHANCE AGAINST MY PETTY OBJECTIONS! I WILL MAKE UP THINGS SO IT LOOKS LIKE I KNOW STUFF!
  • 63. “I’m not actually good enough… Therefore I will massively overcompensate by any means” • Immediate 1-1 advice to tone it down, increase self-awareness • Reassure • Requires strong trust to avoid defensive reaction • May require removal of responsibility Mentor suggestions
  • 64. “I’m not actually good enough… Therefore I must be as defensively opaque as possible so people don’t ask questions” ???
  • 65. “I’m not actually good enough… Therefore I must be as defensively opaque as possible so people don’t ask questions” Mentor suggestions • Can be hard to detect until it’s too late • Personally encourage habits of openness
  • 66. “I’m not actually good enough… Therefore I am doomed and will freeze and wait for inevitable failure” There’s no point trying
  • 67. “I’m not actually good enough… Therefore I am doomed and will freeze and wait for inevitable failure” Mentor suggestions • Super bad news • Pretty hard to reverse at this point • Removal of responsibilities likely to be a relief to all
  • 68. Mistakes of inexperience: too rigid Do it this way, or else! I’m supposed to know more than everyone else! No-one will listen to me unless I make a lot of noise I need to advertise my leaderiness, or my prestige will evaporate!
  • 69. It’s not your job to know all the answers The team’s success is your success Use the skills of the team Mentor
  • 70. Sure, I guess, let’s do what you want, it’s probably fine. Who am I to disagree? They seem really confident. I’m not a real leader Mistakes of inexperience: too flexible
  • 71. You’re ultimately responsible, not the other people! Let’s go through the reasons from first principles It’s ok to ask questions, it’s not your job to know everything already Mentor
  • 72. Handling insecurity • Nothing to be ashamed of per se • Harmful flow-on effects best pre-empted with cultural change • Strong trust bonds necessary for frank individual feedback • Senior leaders should set an example for openness
  • 75. Your code is bad and you are bad Dev Words Actions Awww Dev who wrote the code Other devs Whoa. Maybe there’s something to learn though? I am a thoroughly disagreeable person
  • 76. Your code is bad and you are bad Very senior tech lead Words Actions Everyone else ARGHGH!!!! I am a thoroughly disagreeable person This is how leaders behave here Stick your neck out, this will happen to you too Dev who wrote the code Big loss of face in front of peers
  • 77. Very senior tech lead But they’re the exact same words! I’m just calling it like I see it
  • 79. Creating opportunities Project 1 Project 2 Project 3 Jan Feb Mar … Team 1 Team 3 Team 2
  • 80. Creating opportunities Project 1 Project 2 Project 3 Jan Feb Mar … Team 1 Team 3 Team 2 Team 2 informal tech lead Project 1 informal tech lead
  • 81. MYOB example: Tech Lead Groups Front end team Backend service team API team Desktop team 1 Desktop team 2 Project Infrastructure team Tech Lead Group
  • 82. Tech Lead Group • Reduce decision-making workload for architects • Increase architect visibility into teams • Increase teams’ access to fast architecture advice & decisions • Grow new tech leaders
  • 83. Tech Lead Group • Reduce decision-making workload for architects • Increase architect visibility into teams • Increase teams’ access to fast architecture advice & decisions • Grow new tech leaders
  • 84. However: • Confusion around scope of responsibility • Decision-maker? • Hard to balance team-work with TLG-work • There are a range of situational pros & cons to all the different ways you can do this
  • 85. Conclusion • Growing tech leaders in-house is a Good Thing • Bridging non-technical gaps is a big deal • Wider perspective • Building trust & relationships • Managing insecurities appropriately • Understanding words as actions • Good mentoring makes a huge difference • 1-1 coaching • Setting an example • Timely intervention • Creating opportunities with informal org structure

Editor's Notes

  1. Finding tech talent is hard, and so is keeping them! While importing expertise is valuable, having a clear internal path of advancement is indispensable: Motivates individuals to invest more of their career at a company Keep that juicy domain knowledge! Good for everyone This talk is about the challenges of growing tech leads, both from the point of view of an aspiring senior developer, and a mentor hoping to develop them. These are actually very similar viewpoints; the ways in which an manager or architect might wish to grow a tech lead are similar to the ways a tech lead might wish to grow a senior developer. We’ll shine a light from above & a light from below, and perhaps we will illuminate the subject in an interesting way.
  2. A big part of this is considering the kind of gaps between the skillset of a senior developer and a tech lead. While there’s always more to learn, we can assume that their tech skills are great; the gaps are more likely to be things like: Projecting influence appropriately Understanding social dynamics Learning about the broader company context Some people seem to be naturals at this, but for most, it’s a learnt skill. It’s not just “I’m a people person” “I’m not a people person”. PEOPLE SKILLS ARE LEARNABLE, like programming. But unlike programming, where there is an incredibly rich seam of educational materials at hand to learn the craft, most programmers find themselves gaining proficiency at people skills the same way most managers do – by sucking at it for ten years. How do you bridge the gap? How can we help them bridge it more efficiently?
  3. Openness allows developers to take an interest in how the team works, how the team’s work fits in with other teams Openness in goals, process, decisions, motivations, rationales Not everyone is interested, and that’s fine The ones that are can learn through osmosis, potentially leaders
  4. Building trust is the secret sauce to getting anything done in an organization of any size If people trust you, it is a force-multiplier If people don’t trust you, the walls close in: you are stuck with your own two hands Someone on the cusp of being a tech lead often has a lot of trust and respect built up with the developers they work with. Technical excellence alone is often enough to build trust within a team. But taking the next step requires building trust relationships with a whole bunch of people they might have previously only had superficial relationships with, and technical excellence alone is not enough to do this
  5. Engineering managers
  6. Product managers
  7. BAs
  8. UX specialists
  9. And if they’re really lucky, most important of all: customers
  10. Trust puts a framing on every conversation before you’ve even opened up your mouth.
  11. Without trust, the framing on the conversation is a little different…
  12. This is an obnoxious and snide dismissal of Alice’s concerns, but it’s not necessarily because the Product Manager is a horrible person – they might have been burnt a bunch of times, by Alice or other technical leaders, and fundamentally don’t trust them enough to take the advice at face value. For argument’s sake, the Product Manager might be living in fantasy-land, the spaceships might be completely impossible in the short term. But it doesn’t matter – the course of the conversation is all but predetermined, because of the lack of trust between the two. This is both entirely predictable, and wholly within Alice’s ability to control. Had she taken the time to build a trust relationship with the PM beforehand, it would have been fine Trust is a lubricant that makes everything flow smoother and easier.
  13. I’m not even joking. This is what separates the 90% from the 10% You don’t have to be intelligent. You don’t even have to be good at programming. You just have to not be terrible. Let me hit you with some examples to explain what I mean:
  14. Let’s start with a simple example
  15. That’s kind of terrible. It didn’t take any technical skill to follow through on writing up the notes. It didn’t take any emotional or social intelligence. It just needed 5 minutes of time and a moderate amount of non-terribleness.
  16. Put a sock in it Tech Lead, and listen up
  17. Have you ever seen a manager’s calendar? They have a very dynamic job, it’s very demanding, and they have to juggle a lot of balls in the air. Every single one of these things on the calendar is a concern they have to fit in their head all at once.
  18. If you’re terrible, every time you open your mouth, your boss will mentally put another 5 appointments on their calendar. How do you think they appreciate that? What if you have a team of 6, and they’re all like that? The boss is spending half of their week compensating for terrible people! Being terrible isn’t just harmless; it makes everyone around you less effective. If your boss check in more than say, 3 times a week with “Heeeey buddy, how’re you going with that thing”, I must inform you that you are terrible. We KNOW this has to be true If you proactively told your boss what you were doing, they wouldn’t need to check in If your boss was confident that --- because you committed to completing something, therefore it’s as good as done – why would they bother checking in on you? This is shocking to hear. The good news is that this is excellent feedback, and not being terrible is really easy to do. You can start when you go back to work after YOW
  19. If you’re not terrible, maybe your boss’ calendar looks like …
  20. … this, because the boss can just forget about a bunch of stuff that they TRUST Bilal will sort out. How do you think that is appreciated?
  21. And when it comes time to recommend an internal Tech Lead candidate, who do you think will come to mind? Is Bilal a technical mastermind who could found a blockchain startup with one hand in two hours? I don’t know? Maybe? But he got the promotion because he’s the one that’s not terrible. Building up a solid trust relationship here didn’t just make Bilal a better worker, it made his boss a better worker. Building up trust makes everyone around you better.
  22. Here’s another scenario
  23. Whoops!
  24. That’s pretty terrible! Carla didn’t communicate the state of her work effectively, and now everyone is behind.
  25. But what she knows is that she doesn’t know what she doesn’t know And what she tells her boss should be that she knows that she doesn’t know what she doesn’t know
  26. Carla’s calendar might have looked a bit like this
  27. Again, there’s a loss of trust here. Maybe nothing could have been done, and Carla just needs to work through it. But maybe more people could have been brought on. Maybe other work could have been prioritized. Again, the boss has to fill up their calendar with “checking on Carla” in case she’s stuck again, because they don’t trust her to communicate. Other busy people might have to drop important things to clean up; they’ll lose trust as well. YOUR BOSS HAS A BOSS AS WELL
  28. The other thing that people don’t really think about is that your boss has a boss too. The higher up you go, the conversations can take on a different character! And poor communication can get your boss roasted like a turkey in a boardroom.
  29. This time, Carla isn’t terrible. She’s still stuck – she still can’t solve the problem. But this time she communicates.
  30. Now, the boss has lots of options… They might bring more people in when they have time They might pause the work and put Carla on something else An inexperienced or insecure developer thinks this is a sign of weakness. Someone who knows what they’re doing understands that nobody knows the answer, and that this is effective, necessary and downright RIGHTEOUS communication! AGAIN You don’t need intelligence, skill, charm or hard work. For this basic level of organisational fluency, you just need to not be terrible!
  31. At risk of laboring the point, it’s not just about bosses and promotions. It works a bit like this with everyone.
  32. Doesn’t have to be dropping everything to help all the time; he would never get anything done. It could just be helpful advice or pointers, or an hour of time,
  33. If you are a reliable node on the path to success – helping others! Then their success will be your success You know what that’s called? POWER!
  34. It’s a low bar to clear; they just need to realise there’s a bar there, otherwise they’ll walk into it
  35. A common cause for that sort of closed, uncommunicative behavior that we saw there is insecurity. Personal insecurity is absolutely rife at every level of a career in tech. Not everyone experiences it in the same degree, and people vary in how well they can deal with it. It is entirely natural, and not something to be ashamed about.
  36. Feeling insecure does NOT IN ANY WAY indicate a lack of talent nor a lack of leadership potential. However, managing them in a constructive way is essential. AS A MENTOR, helping potential tech leads manage insecurities is important Insecurity can manifest in a bunch of different ways, sometimes in harmful and negative ways Junior developers tend have a really good culture around this, they talk about impostor syndrome openly The more senior this person is, the less likely they are to be open about it, and the more harm can be done. Let’s explore that
  37. The lack of confidence in this one often has contributing environment factors Upbringing Introversion Life experience Social underprivilege Company misses out on a huge amount of leadership talent, and settles for the loudest & most privileged voices by default. MENTOR SLIDE NEXT
  38. Mentors: Have an obligation to counteract effects of privilege Reduce the cost of speaking up Culture of personal safety Seek out quiet voices This will also set an example MUST be proactive, because nobody is likely to complain Just prompting isn’t enough
  39. This is very common, and very destructive Can create a toxic work environment quickly Effects on team: Other people get disgruntled & leave Toxic team dynamic Juniors emulate behaviour Must be nipped in the bud Not necessarily because they’re a bad person Not necessarily because they can’t become a good leader (although--- it may indicate that more responsibilities are premature) MENTOR SLIDE NEXT
  40. If the mentor has a good trust relationship with a potential leader, they can raise self-awareness about this kind of behavior Otherwise likely to trigger extremely defensive responses Help them understand the effects on the team.
  41. Turtling behavior Avoid scrutiny & accountability Often hard to detect until its too late Unhealthy behaviour, hides problems, makes it harder to fix in time Effect on team: Lack of communication Missed opportunities MENTOR SLIDE NEXT
  42. Hard to reverse when someone has reached this point. Likely to be the result of the problem going unchecked for a long time. MENTOR SLIDE NEXT
  43. Take away responsibilities; it may be a relief rather than a humiliation They can get on with their life and work on something they enjoy
  44. “Do it this way, or else!” Team feels disempowered, disengaged No-one knows all the answers Common resort of inexperienced leaders Often stems from insecurity: “I’m supposed to know more than everyone else!” “No-one will listen to me unless I flap my arms around and make a lot of noise!” “I need to advertise my leaderiness, or my prestige will evaporate!” MENTOR SLIDE NEXT
  45. Mentoring, lead by example Don’t need all the answers Don’t even need to be the best technically
  46. “Sure I guess, let’s do that, it’s probably fine.” Unaccountable – who is responsible? Sloppy – what are the consequences? Don’t they matter? Might stem from lack of confidence – “who am I to disagree?” “They seem really confident”. MENTOR SLIDE NEXT
  47. Solution: Strong sense of accountability Leader leader: needs to hold them accountable as a fitness function: “Can you explain to me why we are doing it this way?” Can’t say “because [other person] thought it was a good idea”
  48. At the surface, all these behaviour patterns are very different; but in fact, they all stem from the same underlying causes Perceiving this can allow you to take the correct measures
  49. Words don’t just convey information – speech is an action that carries consequences and has moral valence independent from its semantic content It sounds obvious saying it out loud, but it seems to be widely underappreciated in practice. As developers become more senior, the more important ”words as actions” become.
  50. Consider a prime minister with a looming financial crisis; they won’t say the economy is borked and we need to stockpile ammunition and cans of baked beans Not necessarily because they are a filthy liar; they have have responsibilities If they say that, investors might pull capital out of the country, self-fulfilling prophecy, 10ks lose their jobs If they dress it up with a bow, maybe everyone scrapes through. Doesn’t mean dishonesty is ok, but it means there’s more to take into account than the meaning of words
  51. Compare: Junior dev angrily cussing out teammate in public “Your code is bad and you are bad” The words have factual content, which might be true – the code might actually be bad, and its author might be bad at their job in various ways But saying it out loud, it becomes an action Teammate feels bad Leaders step in, junior dev is quickly disciplined/mentored Apologies, everyone moves on
  52. Tech leader angrily cusses out teammate in public “Your code is bad and you are bad” Teammate feels bad Loses face with team Resentment, teamwork breaks down Less likely to speak up in the future Teammates less likely to speak up in the future Teammates emulate behavior, cycle of unpleasantness Personal safety breaks down System is no longer self-healing
  53. Well, yes, but you’re responsible for the consequences of your actions, like everyone else YOU ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR THE CONSEQUENCES OF YOUR WORDS, REGARDED AS ACTIONS
  54. The higher your personal prestige, the more consequential your words The wider the audience, the more consequential your words Not just magnitude, can flip a mostly good thing into a mostly bad thing For senior leaders, they might be completely unable to say anything without seismic consequences, so must work through others to send moderate messages. For instance, CEO public speeches will often be very bland and general; but private discussions can get very heated indeed A challenge for emerging tech leaders is that the mapping between words and results is rapidly changing in real time This can be shocking and frustrating for everyone MENTOR 1-1 mentoring Assume good faith Build self awareness early Nip in the bud Set a good example
  55. To grow tech leads, you need to give them opportunities Projects & teams are often dynamic, short-lived things, and have specific leadership requirements with limited scope Organisational roles tied to salary are long lived, inflexible and hard to change “Hats” vs “roles”
  56. Team-local tech lead Project-local tech lead
  57. TICK SLIDE NEXT
  58. …. Then progress can be made, to the benefit of all. Thank you