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Leadership and Management Panel - ElaConf 2016


Recently I was a panelist on ElaConf's Leadership and Management Panel along with awesome tech bosses Alison Rowland, Caro Griffin and Alisha Miranda. The panel was moderated by Alisha who had crowd-sourced a great list of questions.


The panel was for women interested in pursuing a management career path. Alisha started off the panel with a round of introductions from each of us on our manager-origin story. I moved into the tech team lead role after being an individual contributor (IC) for 3 years. Since two years, I've been leading a team of 4 Android developers.





Below are my (paraphrased) answers on some of the panel questions.

What does success look like as a manager? How do you as a manager showcase the intangible impact you’re contributing?


As a team lead, you need to make sure your team is happy, that everyone communicates with each other and ships products on time. A lot of times what a manager does is not visible because a manager is responsible for all the things that make a team work together. If you catch up every morning for team check-ins or stand-ups, spend some time on what you did as a manager to help make your team mates' lives better. If you had a tough discussion with someone on another team, if you resolved some issues that makes it faster for the team to get its work done, mention this to your team. As a working manager (one who codes and manages people), it is important to show the impact you have because it gets the noise out of the way and your team can focus on their work. As a manager, a lot of context switching is involved so keeping a running list/journal of what you do everyday is helpful in understanding where your efforts are going.



As a manager, feedback is an important part of the job. Any core values you strive to emulate as a leader? Can you talk a little about how you communicate to junior team members or colleagues?


Give feedback fast and often even if it's criticism. Junior team members need more face time and check-ins because they need to be molded into effective communicators and contributors. The first 30 days are crucial for check-ins so you can help your team member grow. Have public channels in slack and create a safe space for your team to ask questions. Listen to your team and channel their thoughts and needs up the management chain. Have regular 1:1s with each of your team members frequently. Always keep the channel of communication open between you and your team.




How do you engage in healthy conflict resolution and build bridges?


Conflicts cannot be avoided. Write down your thoughts to process them before talking to someone you have a conflict with. Find a common ground and figure out a solution that works for both sides. Ultimately, you have a goal, for example: ship a product on time. So make sure you work towards that goal.

Who taught you to be a manager? How do you recommend finding a mentor to help you take that leap?


I learned from the people around me - my peers as well as my bosses. I had a really awesome project manager who listened to my pain points and helped me figure out what worked best for me and my team. Asking for a mentor helps. If you feel the need to grow, ask for it directly. 

I also follow Lara Hogan's and Cate Huston's blogs on being a manager, learning to be a better manager and doing effective 1:1s. I read a lot of books on behavioral psychology and professional development.


Self-care is something we talk about frequently at my job. Any tips on being emotionally resilient?

Turn off work notifications before 9 and after 5 if you have a 9-to-5 job. Lead by example. Tell your team not to work after hours. Plan ahead so your team doesn't end up working over the weekend. Keep a journal to write down thoughts or blog about things you have learned while leading a team.  



Thanks @elaconf for putting this panel together. I have a new squad now! 



Here's Alison's take on her panel experience and below are some wonderful sketch-notes of the panel by Alex and Eileen.







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