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the importance of great leaders in technology

People don't leave companies, the saying goes, they leave managers.

Research from a Gallup engagement study revealed that 50% of Americans have left a job because of their manager at some point in their career.  The same study reported that managers account for at least 70% of variance in employee engagement scores.

Software Engineers can (and should) be picky when choosing where to work.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of openings for Software Engineering positions will exceed qualified applicants by 1 million in 2022.


Organizations will continue to face an uphill battle as we try to recruit top technical talent.  The unfortunate reality is that there simply are not enough qualified candidates for the increasing demand.


Therefore, there is a dire need to change our approach to technical leadership, and equip new leaders with the necessary skills and tools, if we want to continue building and retaining strong, empowered, motivated, and loyal teams.

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My transition into engineering management might sound familiar.


Like many other new leaders, I left work on Friday and came back the following Monday, still working alongside my peers, but this time as their boss.

I struggled for months with the psychological and emotional shift from an individual contributor role to suddenly leading a group of people.   I would look at my calendar each morning and be overwhelmed at the amount of meetings and 1:1s.  I always felt like I was forgetting something, or someone, and was convinced that my team members thought I was doing an awful job.


The path from Engineer --> Manager is arguably a complete career change; shifting one's expertise from Computer Science to People Science.   


I was surprised to learn that my new role didn’t include formal training as a starting foundation for my new responsibilities (how to give feedback, what to say in 1:1s, leading different personality types and communication styles, etc). 

But, it turns out this isn’t uncommon for new leaders.  According to a CareerBuilder study, only 40% of new leaders receive formal training or development when they become a boss for the first time.   The remaining are forced to get scrappy to quickly equip themselves with new skills, techniques, and mindsets to effectively transition into their new roles.

Engineering Management is (in my opinion) one of the most challenging roles in our tech organizations.  It requires an artful balance of people, process, politics, and technology.  


I can still recall one of the first pieces of advice I received from a mentor: the best way to grow and add value is to look for broken processes and fix them.  This advice continues to shape my approach and is the reason I founded Developer First; to provide leaders with soft skills and tactical methods to truly embrace the human side of software development.

- Kate, Founder

introducing developer first

Developer First leadership is the drive to focus on the growth and advancement of your team members before yourself. 


We crafted this approach to provide soft skills, resources, and strategies for new and season leaders via conferences, new manager training, and speaking engagements.

Join our mailing list to stay up to date on events, public workshops, and more!

I have been very fortunate to speak at conferences and host workshops at many locations across the world. 

I have come to realize that these topics and problems are universal to tech communities.


Audiences have ranged from 10 - 150+  and consisted of Engineers, Engineering Managers, Directors, VPs, CEOs, CIOs, and more.


giving feedback is kind :)

have you attended one of Kate's talks or workshops?  submit a review by scanning this QR code or via a review.  thank you so much!

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