Build A Team That Ships

I’ve been “officially” leading teams for around 4 years now. That said, I’ve really been leading teams my entire life to some capacity. As a teenager, we (my cousin and I) led a group of skateboarders but rather than the normal path you’d expect we ended up with merch, websites, movies, and a real-world skate shop opened. Seriously, there was a ribbon-cutting. In my time on Active Duty in the U.S. Army, amazing examples of leadership were all around me. Fast forward to today and I lead engineering teams as an Engineering Manager at Linode.

I’d like to start with a caveat of sorts. Self-management (to me) is a misnomer, you have to support your team while also empowering them to move freely within the scope of priority and outside of it.

Here’s what I do:

  • Team size based on effort. There can be teams inside of a management structure of teams.
  • Try new approaches to “the process”. Nothing is an absolute, people over process.
  • Do what works for the team based on learning over time.
  • If you commit as a team to an effort, that comes first.
  • Everything outside of the effort is fair game until it slows the committed work above.
  • Team members want to make things better for peers, let them.
  • One person projects are a thing.

Management Requirements

  • Listen to your team.
  • If you say you’re going to do something, do it.
  • Don’t commit if it’s questionable that you’ll execute.
  • Take notes.
  • Ask questions, but don’t think you have to drive everything ever.
  • Accept failure and act on what you’ve learned from it.
  • Collaborate to safely remove barriers that prevent shipping.

Ship it.

Disclaimer thing: These are my opinions and not representative of Linode or the opinions of Linode directly.