Aaron Schildkrout published a lovely piece recently:
It’s a little long, but completely worth it. It it, he reflects on his experience, as a non-technical co-founder, leading the engineering team at HowAboutWe and what made him an effective leader despite being “non-technical”.
His summarizes his experience through six pieces of advice:
- Know the stack
- Become an expert facilitator
- Run the smartest ship
- Master the data
- Hire great people and replace yourself
- Ready yourself, inside
It’s a wonderful read but I actually think that Aaron’s overall framing is too narrow. If you’re bought into the thesis that management is a career change, not a promotion, then managing people that are better individual contributors than you is the norm. Therefore, this is a much broader manifesto on how you, as a leader/manager, should be spending your time, focus and energy, regardless of the type of team that you lead and your personal background.
Consequentially, my only qualm with this piece is that “replacing yourself with a more technical leader” should NOT be the end goal.
BONUS: in this piece Aaron also references a 7-piece series about product leadership that he’d previously written starting with Unblocked: A Guide to Making Things People Love. I’m not going to cover it in depth in this blog because while the principles that start in piece are great, the process implementations themselves vary in quality and broader applicability.