“The number one core attribute of a strong leader is ownership. They don’t blame others, they don’t make excuses. and they’re not victims in their own stories” – Ahmed Wasfy
In this episode, I interviewed Ahmed Wasfy. With a career that’s seen him leading engineering teams in tech giants like Microsoft, Google, and AWS, Ahmed brings a wealth of experience and insights that are truly remarkable. From deciphering the core attributes that set exceptional engineering leaders apart to navigating challenges faced by new leaders entering the workforce, we dive deep into the art and science of leadership.
Here Are Some of the Key Points Discussed About the Core Attributes of Exceptional Engineering Leaders:
- Two core attributes of great engineering leaders are ownership and putting people first. Ownership means taking responsibility for your actions and not blaming others. It also means being willing to do whatever it takes to get the job done, even if it means stepping outside of your comfort zone. Putting people first means creating a positive and supportive work environment where your team members feel valued and appreciated. When you focus on these two things, you will be well on your way to becoming a great engineering leader.
- Different companies have different leadership philosophies and practices. At Microsoft, leaders are expected to identify problems and propose solutions. Google has a different approach, where engineers are responsible for writing code and operating the services. Amazon has a structured approach to developing teams and replicating good behavior patterns. However, all three companies emphasize the importance of ownership. The most successful leaders at these companies are those who take ownership of their work and are willing to make decisions.
- Transitioning from an individual contributor to a manager can be challenging. Many new responsibilities and skills need to be learned. Some of the biggest challenges include long feedback loops, switching from a maker schedule to a manager schedule, needing to learn new skills, losing technical expertise, managing people, and balancing competing priorities.
- A leadership framework that has been effective in fostering growth and productivity in individuals and teams is the three pillars framework. This framework focuses on three key areas: managing yourself, your people, and your projects. The framework can conceptualize leadership as a system or machine with inputs, outputs, and feedback loops.
- Managing yourself is the foundation of effective leadership. When you can manage your time, energy, and emotions effectively, you will be better able to lead others and achieve your goals. It includes caring for your physical and mental health, setting clear goals and priorities, and managing your time effectively.
- Engineering leaders can manage their time effectively and balance their work and personal lives by setting clear expectations with their leadership, managing their calendars wisely, owning their time, managing their energy, and turning off email notifications.
- One-on-one meetings are a great opportunity for leaders to build relationships with their team members. Leaders can focus on the individual, be a sounding board, celebrate successes, and create a safe space for feedback to build strong relationships with their team members.
- Engineering leaders can improve the success of their projects by understanding the three levers at their disposal (resources, time, and scope), setting up a structure for accountability, estimating the project timeline and tracking progress, and reflecting on the project at the end.
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