Level Up

By Patrick Kua

Level Up - Issue #109



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Level Up

September 12 · Issue #109 · View online

Level Up delivers a curated newsletter for leaders in tech. A project by https://patkua.com. Ideal for busy people such as Tech Leads, Engineering Managers, VPs of Engineering, CTOs and more.

One of the hardest shifts for developers stepping into technical leadership roles is dealing with uncertainty. Developers are used to a high degree of certainty in their day. Examples include a test passing or not passing, a build working or not working, a deployment successful or not successful. Most teams using some sort of Kanban/XP/Scrum have some sort of team structure in place (clarity on planned work, work in progress, and completed work). There are of course lots of uncertainty developers face like finding out if they built what stakeholders/customers need, is the design simple and understandable *enough*, or debugging some weird bug.
Stepping into leadership roles means dealing with higher degrees of uncertainty. The greater your scope, the greater levels of uncertainty. No one will typically tell you where to prioritise your time. You’re simply expected to organise your work for yourself, which often means saying no, or at least, “No, not now”. You have higher degrees of uncertainty, especially dealing with people’s emotions and reactions to events. You might think someone will react how you would to a certain event. Instead, be prepared for a wide range of responses. An announcement of an organisation change might raise anger in some, resentment in others and might even excite other team members and offer a hopeful future. Lots of uncertainty.
How can you handle uncertainty? One useful exercise I introduce to first-time leaders is visualising the future. Project yourself in the future and imagine the possible alternative paths. Reflect on what you might do or say in response to them. Although you can’t predict all of the possible alternatives, at least you can prepare for those you can imagine. Where you have extreme levels of uncertainty (the “I have no clue” situation), spend time gathering more information and data to understand what options you may have.
Your challenge for this week is to bring your attention to the uncertainty around you. Visualise the future and reflect on what you can do to craft more certainty from uncertainty?
Enjoy this week’s newsletter and be sure to pass it on to a friend or colleague. Want to level up your technical leadership skills? Sign up for the online workshop, “Shortcut to Tech Leadership” or take a self-paced course at the http://techlead.academy.

Leaders always have to deal with some level of uncertainty
Leaders always have to deal with some level of uncertainty
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Tweets of the Week
A reminder that great architecture decisions make the right thing easy.
Erik Bernhardsson
Spotify made a (imo) brilliant architectural decision early and made it super easy for any service to emit machine readable events with a proper schema. This was the basis of the whole analytics stack. I think this is rare though? Do we need better tooling for it?
An important insight below 👇
Bryan Liles
One of the things I learned through out my career is that it is relatively easy to say smart things in a meeting. It’s harder to make those smart things real. The hardest thing is making your smart ideas feel like everyone’s idea. Your idea isn’t great until it’s bigger than you.
Thanks for making it this far! 🤗
If you enjoyed this newsletter, please send me feedback and share with others!
Want to level up your technical leadership skills? Watch out for future dates for the Shortcut to Tech Leadership online workshop, or check out self-paced courses at the Tech Lead Academy.
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Patrick Kua, Postfach 58 04 40, 10314, Berlin, Germany