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Communications of the ACM


Nine Things I Didn't Know I Would Learn Being an Engineer Manager

Nine Things I Didn't Know I Would Learn Being an Engineer Manager, illustration

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When I moved from being an engineer to being a dev lead, I knew I had a lot to learn. My initial thinking was I had to be able to do thorough code reviews, design, and architect websites, see problems before they happened, and ask insightful technical questions. To me that meant learning the technology and becoming a better engineer. When I actually got into the role (and after doing it almost 15 years), the things I have learned—and that have mattered the most—were not those technical details. In fact, many of the skills I have built that made me a good engineer manager were not technical at all and, while unexpected lessons, have helped me in many other areas of my life.

What follows are some of these lessons, along with ideas for applying them in your life—whether you are a manager, want to be a manager, or just want to be a better person and employee.


Rajendran Swaminathan

Learning and adapting to educated human beings remain a challenge for technical guys. Even after 20 years, in leadership role, I have learnt from this article.

Stephen Siegel

"I recommend emulating the people in your organization whom you look up to. Look at how they dress.": the people I look up to would never ever judge others by how they dress.

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