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December Newsletter

Being a first-time Engineering Manager is exhausting;

  • You’ve proven to be an accountable and responsible Lead who can deliver complex technical solutions.

  • You’ve learned how to gracefully navigate the politics of management and business relationships.

  • You’ve discovered (and likely stumbled through) the complexities of leading humans.

  • You are a master at constantly switching contexts, taking advantage of those sporadic 2 minutes of down time in between meetings to read and respond to more emails than you did in your last 5 consecutive years as a developer.

  • You’ve somehow found time to continue leveling up your own technical skills.

  • You inspire your teams to work hard and feel connected to the organization’s mission.

I have studied hundreds of leaders and find that the make-or-break quality of poised, confident, and inspiring leaders is the ability to articulate his or her core values. Without this self awareness, they stumble and fall (even harder) while navigating a role that inevitably requires fighting fires, making tough decisions, and facilitating awkward and emotional conversations.

This is why all of my leadership workshops start and end with activities to discover and solidify your core values and purpose.

Most commonly, this starts with me standing in front of a group of highly technical and seasoned leaders staring blankly at me as I explain the intimate activity that awaits.

I was leading a training last week and one participant (who was very clearly apprehensive of the activity) raised his hand to speak:

“I work for an organization that doesn’t need to care about employees’ personal values. I don’t think I could tell you the values of any other team members"

“Interesting,” I said. “Tell me, do you enjoy working at your organization?”

“Yes, I love it. We are committed to the job at hand and getting stuff done. We focus on delivering technology and I enjoy that - I don’t need to talk about my personal values at work.”

“Can you tell me what your top 3 values were from the last activity?”

I could hear the reluctance vanishing in his voice as he responded: “Responsibility, accountability, achievement”

And that my friends, is how we transform the unwilling students into believers. This individual was happy and successful because he was in a role, in an organization, that honored and leveraged his values.

Core values drive your decisions, actions, and feelings towards your everyday tasks. Uncertain and challenging moments are inevitable as you lead teams. Therefore, we need to understand our values, how they propel or hinder our success in various situations, and how we can best leverage them to be great leaders.

Thank you for your continued support and stay warm this December!

- Kate, Founder

December featured book:

Jennifer Brown, Inclusion

Other favs this month:

Kerry Patterson, Crucial Conversations

Elizabeth Gilbert, Big Magic

New to Engineering Management?

Check out the full day Foundations of Tech Leadership workshop on March 20th in Minneapolis, MN!

This event was carefully crafted to present foundational techniques, soft skills, and actionable frameworks necessary to be an effective leader in tech!

Newsletter subscribers get $50 off with code DFFRIEND at checkout.

Or, schedule a personalized onsite Engineering Manager training for your team!

2020 Tech Leadership Conference

Don't miss out on early bird pricing for the Tech Leadership Conference in Minneapolis, MN next June 2020!

Learn from industry leaders at organizations such as Slack, Target Corp, Best Buy, Codecademy, Code Climate, and more!

Newsletter subscribers get $50 off with code DFFRIEND at checkout.

Check out the schedule and buy your tickets now!


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