Every time someone starts the journey from an individual contributor to being a team lead, you see the same feeling of, "okay, what do I do? Where do I start? What does it mean to be a team lead?" Something that is very common is people taking either the people tour, they look at the people in the team, they want to take care of the team, they want to shield the team. It's more of a focus on happiness or motivation. And for other people, when they start leading they are looking for, "how can we deliver?" The processes and the organizational setup. Which is also important.
I think that when a portion of us talk about vulnerability, we have this expectation that because the way vulnerability looks, that it can look like therapy or something along those lines. And I don't believe that to be the case. I believe what it is is actually just showing that you're human. And you, just like everybody else, have similar human things.
I actually do believe as an industry, we are in our own Newton's Cradle. In the 80’s and 90’s, maybe even the early 2000’s, we had performance-based, almost maniacal leaders. We elevated people like Larry Ellison and Steve Jobs, and "visionaries", and I don't believe they were actually good leaders, but they "got many people on their organization to be motivated.”
But that was overly oriented to one side. And then there was a Zeitgeist that basically said: "No.” And it pulled Newton's cradle to the other side, which is we're going to talk about vulnerability in the therapy sense or only focus on culture without execution and outcome, and only focus on how you're feeling, and managers' jobs are to only make their teams safe and psychological safety. Which I think are all incredibly important elements, when they're in balance with execution.
People are more and more reflecting on their choices, what they want to do with their lives. There's a lot of people considering leaving the industry, changing jobs. There's this huge shift everywhere. We now need to be extra careful about making sure that people are not only comfortable and that they're delivering, but they also find there's a strong purpose to what they do. And seeing people leave for smaller companies, where they can have a bigger impact, work on areas like climate change. You see that more and more, which is interesting.
There are a lot of companies out there that are balancing that execution and great care for their people, going as far back as probably hundreds of years. But it's like you said, the zeitgeist of the moment is usually the polarizing ideas and I'm still always surprised the impact that the, let's call it even social media in this case, can have on shifting opinions and driving us in an industry from one side to the other. From people who x years ago would have been extremely strong believers of the GE style performance-only execution, and today are on the complete opposite side of the spectrum of “it's only about the happiness and health of my team.”
Ask for help, don't try to do it all on your own. It's a new role. So it requires new tools. You still probably don't master those tools and that's fine. You're learning something new, you need to crawl and then walk before you run. So find someone that can help you. If your manager is a great manager, a great leader. Perfect. If not, try to reach out. Mentor with some other people in your organization, outside the organization, read some books, join some communities, listen to this podcast. But don't just put it on your shoulders to make this journey on your own. It's much easier when you have someone do it with you.
Jason uses Newton’s Cradle to illustrate the high impact of one-sided leadership (i.e., being too focused on people’s happiness or too focused on execution and results).
Ultimately, this shows how important both people and execution are, and why leaders should aim to have a balanced approach.
One of the core topics of this episode is the idea that leaders often struggle with balancing between being people-driven or execution-driven, especially in the early stages of stepping into leadership positions.
What we want you to understand is the impact that the environments created by these leadership styles have on teams, and ultimately, results. For this, we borrowed a handy matrix (by now you must have caught on that we love them), adapted from Amy C. Edmondson’s teaming theory in “Positive Organizational Behaviour: A Reflective Approach”.
Here’s a quick refresher on Psychological Safety and Accountability:
Psychological Safety: Work methods that reduce the pressures that team members face in their teams and create a work environment that allows them to act accordingly to their beliefs.
Accountability: Being results-driven and assuming individual responsibility for one’s work delivery.
The best-selling book by Kim Scott has already been featured in our Topic Explainers for Episode 3 “The Art of Making Good Decisions”.
Nuno talks about the positive impact that this book had on people from his teams when conducting leadership workshops, not only on a professional but on a personal level as well.
Eiso: [00:00:00] Welcome to developing leadership, the podcast where I, Eiso Kant, and my cohost, Jason Warner, share our thoughts and lessons learned on engineering leadership.
Today, we have the Senior Director of Engineering at Datadog, Nuno Antunes, on the podcast Nuno is a seasoned Engineering Leader, wtih a track record as VP of Engineering at OutSystems the low-code DecaCorn, and subsequently VP of Engineering at, application security success, Sqreen.
Today, we're diving into a highly requested topic, transitioning from software engineer to engineering leader. From finding the right balance between being a people person and an execution driven leader, to the challenges of leading teams in fast-growing companies.
If you're an engineering leader, this episode will shed some light on shaping your team members into managers. And if you're a software engineer, listen in, as you might figure out what kind of leader you want to be.
As always, this episode comes with accompanying show notes, featuring our favorite moments from the chat and a deep dive into today's topics. Find them at developingleadership.co or linked at [00:01:00] description
Hi, everyone, we're back with another episode of developing leadership. Jason and I have a special guest with us today, Nuno on Antunes. Nuno is currently senior director of engineering at Datadog, a product that most of us have used or are currently using. Nuno joined Datadog recently after the company he had joined only a year prior as VP of Engineering Sqreen, got acquired. And that wasn't just his only success. Prior to that, he went from Principal Engineer to VP of Engineering at OutSystems, the low code, well, 10 times over unicorn today, where he, when he left, was VP of engineering and have grown the team to over 200 engineers and product people that he was responsible for. Its a pleasure to have you with us today Nuno, this is the first time I'm doing an episode with someone who sits in the same city as me, which is fantastic.
Nuno: So happy to be here Eiso.
Eiso: So the idea for this episode and inviting Nuno came actually out [00:02:00] of a lunch that Nuno and I were having eating grilled fish by the river, here in Lisbon Portugal. Where Nuno was talking to me about a recent IC Software Engineer who had been promoted to team lead, and the journey that she was undergoing.
And while this has been a popular topic that people have requested, for Jason and I to talk about, I thought it would be great to showcase it today from the point of view of a leader who has someone on their team making that transition. And so maybe we kickstart today by hearing a little bit about, you, Nuno, how you looked at that and Jason and I will bombard you with questions for Sharon and share both our points of view as well.
Nuno: Yes, yes, thanks a lot Eiso. Been doing this for a while and every time someone starts this journey from an individual contributor to being a team lead, you see the same feeling of, "okay, what do I do? Where do I start? What does it mean [00:03:00] to be a team lead?
Something that is very common, typically from my experience, is people usually taking either the people tour, so they look at the people in the team, they want to take care of the team that want to shield the team. It's more of a focus on the happiness or their motivation. And for other people, when they start leading they are looking for, "how can we deliver,?" The processes, the organizational setup. Which is also important.
It's easy for people to get lost on what's relevant at what stage. And then obviously you see people falling into, just going to one side of this, of the spectrum. And the secret here is, right, is the balance. There are so many questions that people have and making them feel comfortable and, and sharing that with you, that it's okay to ask questions and, and our jobs as leaders there is [00:04:00] just to, to try to guide them into what's relevant.
Jason: It's interesting, Nuno, that you know, that is what typically happens, those two paths, because in my view, they're actually the main two paths that all leaders end up taking, is "am I going to start out being a people person, or am I going to start out being the process execution person?"
And in reality, you need both. And as you mentioned, you need both in your organization. But it's also amazing how far people can make it in their career, focusing almost exclusively on one side. And then they can become a little out of balance as they make it to VP of Engineering or executive. And, you know, you go back, and I wish you'd done things differently in the past. But it's one of the very first things I mentioned to people is, "Hey, this is a leadership position, which means that you can't focus on any one thing exclusively. You've got to have the overall viewpoint, which is what we do, or the execution side, and how we do it, the people side.
Nuno: Yes. Yeah, exactly. [00:05:00] Just a few months ago, actually I set up a workshop for, the, you have a couple of new team leads that are, that are starting this journey, or just been doing it for one year or so.
So I did a workshop, some people, we did some very cool sessions on feedback, for instance, which is usually something that also is hard for someone that is starting. We talked a lot about ownership, and one of the topics we're talking about at the beginning, I was asking them, "okay, what makes a good team lead?" And then seeing where they, where this question would lead them.
The thing is this relation between. You see a lot of people sharing, "oh, it's taking care of the team, the team is happy, the team is motivated. The team is engaged." On the other side had, "the team is delivering." And so, I usually like to frame this as like a scale. You know, the justice scale with the weights. On one side, you have happiness, [00:06:00] you have motivation, extrinsic, intrinsic. This is what, what makes the team work as a team, trust. On the other side, you need consistent and sustainable delivery base.
If you just invest on one side. So if you just, "okay, I'm just focused on delivery. The team will keep it up." it's difficult to have this notion and be sustainable, because usually you'll be pushing very hard and you're not taking care of the people side. But the other, the other thing is also is also a problem. If you're just only focused on, "is my people happy," but if there's no delivery, then there's no way that this is going to be sustainable in the longterm, because I mean, you can say "oh the team is doing great," but if nothing is happening, then over time... yeah.
Jason: It's interesting that you use a scale, because I use the two together when I have this conversation with folks. And I find that you have to have this [00:07:00] conversation with folks really early in their career, and it's very helpful for them. And you might not hear from them again until five years later when they would say, "thank you so much for hitting me early with this one, because now I recognize this. But I use Newton's Cradle and the Justice Scale.
That's what you want, is you want the scale and you want them to be particularly even, but if they move, just slightly, so that you can understand how to orient it. Whereas with Newton's Cradle what it demonstrates is, if you do this, there's a reaction. But it's such a strong reaction one way that there's a massive shift. So if you're going to shift from execution and you're only focused on execution and you're going to go all the way over to people's side and make everyone happy, it's a jarring result. And then equally, when it goes back, it's a jarring result.
And then eventually over time, you're going to find some equilibrium and it'll slow down, et cetera, et cetera. But if you understand what I'm effectively trying to bad metaphor, there is you have to have a balance. And if you don't have the balance, you're going to have a reaction like Newton's Cradle at some point, because if you're not delivering and everyone's happy, that's a [00:08:00] failure. Or if you're delivering and everyone's miserable and quitting, that is a failure. So you're going to have a reaction.
Eiso: And so, Nuno, you've seen this now in a very short succession, at three very different companies, both in size, and, let's call it scale or maturity. What are some of the nuances or differences that you've seen when you were at OutSystems, that, say, grew quite rapidly in your final years, to over 200 engineers. To a Sqreen, where I think when you joined it was 25. And now a Datadog, which don't know how many engineers there are, but quite a few I can imagine.
Nuno: Yeah I think that the big difference, for instance, for a startup like Sqreen, is that you still, you still know everyone, so you can be more, you can target your attention to every individual and be able to guide them. When you're on a big hypergrowth, like OutSystems in the, you know, or even Datadog now, which is also growing very, very [00:09:00] fast. You don't have this ability to be so close to everyone. You're always running yourself. On the other hand, you have more support from a structure that you don't have in a startup where, everything depends on you. When you're in a big company, you can count on, recruitment, people business partners.
You have, there's training, internal training. So you have these other areas that you can activate to support people growth. And that, to me, is probably the biggest difference. In a startup, you're basically doing it on your own. And you need to, to take care of your people. When the company is big enough you'll have partners to help you do that.
Eiso: You mentioned the workshop that you recently led. I'd love for you to double click on that a bit and go further into, you know, what did that workshop look like? How was it structured? What were some of the things that you walked away from going like, "wow, those really hit home with these young, or new engineering leaders who were making that [00:10:00] transition."
Nuno: Yeah. So we essentially, we started by talking to these new leaders and ask them, " what do you feel are your biggest challenges at the moment, your biggest questions?" And then we create a one day workshop, four or five different topics, feedback always a big thing.
We did a presentation on feedback. We did some role play, which is always fun to get people in the participating. And then in the end, something interesting. So, there's a book that I love, Radical Candor. So I actually bought a copy of the book for everyone in the audience. And a few weeks after we had a book club. So I basically asked everyone to read the first four chapters and then we met and said, "okay, what did you learn? What were the findings? What did you find more interesting?" It was fun that, all the great feedback that people, uh, get [00:11:00] from, " after doing the workshop, after reading these chapters, I was finally able to give feedback to people that I never felt comfortable doing before. I now see how important it is."
And again, and that's part of the, of the growth that we were discussing from being an IC to a Team Lead where suddenly looking at feedback as a, as an act of kindness and not as an act of potential aggression. Once they get it, it's great. Actually, the day after the workshop I had someone that came to me and said "just wanted to share that today I gave feedback to someone and I was looking to do it for months. So now I finally got the motivation to do it and it was great. And the person thanked me." And I had people saying, "okay, yeah, I'm applying this to my personal life as well." Which is so good. So this is more on the feedback. Then we did more sessions on practical stuff. How to [00:12:00] run one-on-ones which again for someone starting, "how do I run one-on-ones, should I focus more on this and that?"
So these are all team leads that they're now starting to lead their own teams, but at the same time, they work together in the security groups for, for Datadog. One of the important things that I wanted them to also be aware is that they have two teams, essentially. They have their team, the ones that they are directly responsible for, but the group in the room, it's also a team. Because at the end of the day, if one is very successful and is delivering but the other is failing then the end goal, you don't have a good result.
So, making sure that they were aware that the team leads themselves are a team. And so they need to work as a team, they need to communicate, they need to share goals. And that's why [00:13:00] then we did this exercise where we gathered everyone around the table, we had some cards that displayed different strengths.
And then every body, picked three cards. Which were the strengths that they recognize, that then explained to the group why they recognize their strengths. And then the other people around the table were able to call additional strengths that they were not aware of. And it was surprising because many times people will go, "oh no, but you also have this strength because I've seen it here and here and there." And this is very powerful in creating strong relations.
And then after a round talking about strengths, we asked, "okay, let's do around talking about not the weakness, but the strength that you would need to, to develop. And everybody, again, being open and showing some vulnerability about, "okay, this is something that I clearly need to work on." Feedback from the team.
[00:14:00] And it was clear that after that session, and people still talk about it these days,how great the session was, to make sure that there's transparency within the group. Everybody is okay about being vulnerable about what they need to, to develop. This was a great moment for the team. Then we did some more, two or three sessions about mission, feedback, about what does it mean to be a team lead. But I'd say that these were the highlights.
Eiso: You mentioned vulnerability and being vulnerable. And I'd love to ask both of you actually. I'll start with you, Jason, and then we'll segment back to Nuno.
How do you look at the importance of vulnerability and openness? Particularly for leaders early in their career. And how do you encourage people to develop that? And maybe Nuno, you can even add a little bit more color to the book you just mentioned, Radical Candor, that I'm a big fan of. I don't know if you've read it, Jason, but I know you'd love it [00:15:00] if you haven't.
Jason: Yeah. I've read that a couple of times. On topics of vulnerability, actually quite a few of the topics I think that we talk about in management leadership today in general, I have a very similar viewpoint on, which is, vulnerability is a good example here.
I think that when a portion of us talk about that, we have this expectation that, you know, because the way the vulnerability looks that it can look like therapy or something along those lines. And I don't believe that to be the case. I believe what it is is actually just showing that you're human. And you, just like everybody else, have similar human things.
So a good example of this is sometimes I'll wake up and I wake up with headaches sometimes, and I'll go into a meeting early in the morning and I'll just say, "Hey, just so you all know, like you're getting a version of me that doesn't look the same as normal, because I've got a pretty big headache today and I expect it will go away in a couple hours." or "I didn't sleep well that night." and I can say like, !I don't know," or "I'm not sure." And [00:16:00] to me, those are actually vulnerable in modern, unfortunately, modern tech. Those are vulnerable moments because there's an expectation that everyone would have it all sorted out. So for me, that's what I'm really trying to show.
I do think like when you go to the other side of the fence example on the vulnerability and say, "Hey, this is all about therapy." Like that's, again, that's like out of balance with what it is because vulnerability could also be, "I want to have a hard conversation with you. That is uncomfortable for me just as much, but I'm not going to say that because that's not what leaders do. They don't, they don't make it about themselves, they make it about you. But this is going to be a really tough conversation, you know?" That's vulnerable.
Nuno: Yeah, totally, totally. Well, that's a, that's a very good point, Jason, the fact that sometimes just being able to say, "I don't know when someone starts in a new leadership position, they feel this pressure to know it all, because they feel that they're going to fail if they just say, "I don't know." And the point with this exercise is exactly that, so [00:17:00] that yeah, you should be comfortable because it's actually the best thing. And we were here to help you.
Jason: It's interesting because "I don't know" what I do tell people is usually almost all answers or things in life in general, but particularly in leadership when you're running companies and as you get higher and higher. There are two part answers. And so the first part might be, "I don't know." And as you left it there, it might become unacceptable. But if you said "I will figure it out", that's the way to do it.
Jason: And so what you try to show people is it's okay to do this. It's okay to not know, but it's not okay to just let it sit there and then kind of wash your hands of the situation. You've got to then be able to say, "I don't know, but I'm going to go figure it out." And then on the flip side, there's a, unfortunately again in 2021, there's an element of trust that needs to go in that the other person, the other side of the table is not going to flip the table on you for saying the first part. They're going to listen for the second part. But you know, there's a lot of modern [00:18:00] leaders out there who don't operate that way.
Eiso: So Jason, I'm going to put you on the spot because in, in the last two minutes you referenced, you know, "in today's..." or 2021. What has changed recently or what is, what do you feel is currently in the air that is making you add that last little part to it of, "Hey, in 2021," what is the, where are we today and how have we got there? And I'm going to throw you on the spot after as well, Nuno, how you look at this.
Jason: I actually do believe as an industry, we are in our own Newton's Cradle, which is babies in the nineties, maybe the early two thousands where. Performance-based almost maniacal leaders, like we elevated people like Larry Ellison and Steve jobs, "visionaries" like that, who I don't believe were actually good leaders, but they "got many people on their organization to be motivated," et cetera, et cetera. But that was like overly oriented to one side. And then there was a Zeitgeist that [00:19:00] basically said: "No. And it pulled Newton's cradle to the other side, which is we're going to talk about vulnerability in the therapy sense or only focus on culture without execution and outcome, and only focus on how you're feeling, and managers' jobs are to only make their teams safe and psychological safety, which I think are all incredibly important elements, when they're in balance with execution.
And that's the point, as an industry. I feel like we've all gone that way. Not all of us, but you know what I'm saying? Like the major Zeitgeist has gone that way. And I believe both of them individually by themselves are wrong. Both of those need to be put together and done well. And that's actually what real leadership looks like.
And I think there's always been leaders who have done both, but for whatever reason, there's a zeitgeisty ish type of narrative that has happened in each one of the various time epocs that we're different. And ours right now. Like particularly on social media, [00:20:00] it tends to be about one side of the fence or another. And I actually think we're, we're slightly going away from that now, too. If you look at social media, many people are actually gravitating back towards execution, primarily because, there are so many people that have realized, "well, if we're only on this side of the fence, we're actually not achieving business outcomes.
Nuno: Yeah. And on my experience, there's nothing that's more exciting and engaging, as achieving those business outcomes. So ultimately, that's that's what makes teams excited and happy. So whatever we can do to make that happen, it's great.
Getting back to the point, Eiso, I think it's something that I've seen change recently with, all the pandemic, people are more and more reflecting about they're choices, what they want to do with their lives. There's a lot of people considering leaving the industry, changing jobs. You see how there's this huge shift everywhere. [00:21:00] I think that this puts an extra, we now need to be extra careful about making sure that people find not only comfortable and that they're delivering, but they also find there's a strong purpose to what they do. I think it's becoming more and more relevant, the purpose. And seeing people leave for smaller companies, where they can have bigger impact, work on areas like climate change. You see that more and more, which is, which is interesting. But then as we manage our teams, it's something that it's clear that I feel it changing.
Jason: I agree entirely with that. I think what's happening is a lot more employees have agency in their own lives and they're realizing that they are able to make these choices. And so they can choose the duality, which is what they work on and who they do it with. And, because of that. I think that we're starting to see a lot of those shifts.
I feel incredibly lucky, given my age, what I've seen in the industry, but I do also feel like I'm [00:22:00] in between certain stages. If I was born five years earlier, versus five years later, as an example, what would be the difference in my views on life or optionality? But I think like five years from now, you're going to see a whole lot of people who have realized, as employees and as programmers or whatever, they actually hold a lot of power in the situation. And just 2005, as an example, nobody would say that about employees and particularly, you know, going after, you know, 1999 to 2001 and '07 and '08, even. So it's, it's a great time to be an employee in that regard. And it's incumbent upon leaders to recognize this and change.
And I think we've started to see that. You see a softer version of Microsoft than when Bill Gates and Steve Balmer were there, but they've over oriented to one side of the fence. They're still good. Now they're pushing back towards execution. Now you can see in some of the language they're talking about. It's interesting. I think if you look at the macro trends, it's quite interesting.
Eiso: It feels like almost every macro trend that we can talk about [00:23:00] is always a pendulum shift. Right? It's there's always a boom and a bust. There's always an extreme and nothing is ever a zeitgeist if it isn't polarizing, because otherwise it's just boring.
There are a lot of companies out there that are balancing that execution and great care for their people, going as far back as probably hundreds of years. But it's like you said, the zeitgeist of the moment is usually the polarizing ideas and I'm still always surprised the impact that the, let's call it even social media in this case, can have on, on shifting opinions and driving us in an industry from one side to the other.
From people who, you know, X years ago would have been extremely strong believers of the GE style performance-only execution. And today are on the complete opposite side of the spectrum of it's only about the happiness and health of my team, and the . Execution side is less balanced. And I think, like you mentioned, there's a part of it, which is agency that everyone is getting themselves, and that also comes, I think, with more wealth in tech, better salaries for people who are building software. The fact [00:24:00] of being able to go remote gives you a lot more optionality.
But at the same time, when we look at this, what we're having is, when we look at the smaller companies, right, Startups, et cetera, there you don't have choice. Because you will die if it's only about everyone being happy, right? So you have to ship.
And that's, I think Nuno where you say that at the end of the day, every engineer I've ever met and worked with, and myself included, at the end of the day, when you see and feel that sense of, "Hey, we're bringing value to the end user, we're shipping with a great pay, like we're getting things out there." That all of us gets us more excited than almost anything else. But of course, the foundation of psychological safety and happiness of work needs to be there.
Nuno: Yeah, definately. And sometimes the challenges is how do you connect that delivery two outcomes, whether it's user satisfaction or business value. Sometimes I have this story, when I joined the screen, the other part of the team that was working on agents, building agents. So it's instrumentation, really [00:25:00] low level, really detailed code. So it's running on a customer application. So it needs to be very, very, very, very low performance, never breaks.
So when I joined, they had this Dashboard, where they basically had the tickets. The dashboard showed: critical, high, medium, tickets, number, growth. So it's just very operational and something that I was trying to change, as we shifted more from a one side engineer, one side to a product engineer organization where everyone was together, but business impact and outcomes were the goals.
I started to discuss with, with some people "how can we make their work closer to the business? So, we realized that. We could identify the ARR that each of these languages were generating. So we had people working in Java, [00:26:00] Ruby, Python. Seven different languages.
And so we created this dashboard that showed us how many customers, what's the ARR and in showed how all the different languages we're growing. And that not only created some, a little bit of gameification for the team, but also started to change the mindset of the team more towards the business.
I remember before the acquisition from Datadog, we were doing OKRs and had one of these agent engineers that said, "okay, I want my OKR for this quarter to be, I want to have the go agent reachhalf a million in ARR." So suddenly his goal was not to eliminate, uh, soft tickets or to have zero tickets. It was, it was a business goal. And from here then he wanted to talk to product people. He wanted to talk to sales. He wanted to talk to people, so "how can I make this [00:27:00] happen?" And things change there. It's interesting. It's still related to motivation and getting people to focus on something bigger than just their work and get them excited about purpose.
Eiso: I love this Nuno. You know this is my jam. And, at the end of the day, like I am a very, very strong believer and I know you are as well, Jason, at the end of the day, if you can show people the true impact of their work and allow everyone to really align, like what are the goals for us as a business, as a team-first mentality as a whole company, you end up getting the most magic happening, because anybody who says that a single engineer in a low-level part of the stack does not care about the impact that they have, no matter if those users are an internal team or external customers is lying. Because I haven't come across those yet.
We all love building software and we love building it for people. So I love what you did there. And it's, and I think you guys are in a unique position where you have such a clear line, right, of being able to say, "Hey, agent in this language leads to that revenue. Unfortunately not every business, that [00:28:00] line is as clear, but hopefully over time it does become that clear for everyone.
Jason: I was going to say, I think it's actually incumbent upon leaders to try to draw some of those lines sometimes for people too. Nuno, if you listen to the podcast, you know, sometimes I delve into sports metaphors and I'll do it again here because I like to.
I think that a coach in a sports team's job sometimes is to explain the overall, you know, you got to win the game, we've got to score the points. But then sometimes they got to do the subtlety too. It's like the reason why we're going to block this way on this play is because we want the outcome of this play to look this way and it dictates that.
And so it helps them to explain the overall concepts. And I think once they can draw those lines, and they can help train the folks to start thinking about those things, that way, which is what I heard you just say, is over time, these, engineers themselves start to think that way. Then you know you can win, because then you could scale too. You can bring broader, more complex concepts in and people will understand it. Because they will themselves [00:29:00] break it down.
So I think it's incumbent upon leaders to try to draw those lines, teach and continue to do that, and then the next generation, this is where it becomes critically important. The next generation of leader needs to do that. They need to then take on that mantle and not expect that the old- that you and I and our CTO or VP of Engineering will continue to do Their job is to help draw those lines, too.
Nuno: Exactly that's, I also like to frame it to, to the team that our job as leaders is not to do the job is to provide guidance and to have very clear priorities what's most important at this stage, and then help them create these frameworks or these metrics or proxy metrics or north stars, however you want to call them. And help them get to a level where the team can connect to it. Because sometimes, Eiso as you were mentioning, sometimes it's hard to correlate the work of a team with [00:30:00] ARR.
So we need to find something in the middle. Okay, if it's not ARR, what are the proxy metrics that we know we anticipate will be good proxy metrics. Okay. Is this enought for the? Okay. Not enough. So let's go one level down. Finding that, again, that balance where we find metrics that the team can understand and that okay. We know how we can influence this. this is part of my world. And getting to that point, I think that as leaders, to me, that's the best thing you can do for your team.
Jason: There's a, now friend,at GitHub, a long time ago, who was reporting to me, and said something along the lines of "yes, every once in a while I find myself in a position, I just keep thinking to myself, WWJD, What Would Jason Do?" I said, that's great, but really what would Jason do? Answer the next question. But why? Why would you do that? And if you can get to that point and get your team to start saying, "we're going to do this, and here's the reason why." Again, now we're [00:31:00] winning.
Eiso: I love that. And so, Nuno, I want to come back on something that is segmenting a little bit to earlier of the episode. When you and I have lunch, you said something to me that totally stuck with me, which says: you have this new leader who had just become a team lead and you told her you do not work for HR.
Can you elaborate a little bit on that? Cause I think that's an important thing for people to understand.
Nuno: Yes, definitely. So, yeah. And that's related to what we were discussing earlier, about moving just towards one side of the scale. And in this case, clearly the people scale was overweighting, and it's easy for people to, to get excited, especially if you're, if you have a good instinct, if you are a people person, you'll try to do it. And I was in this situation where I was seeing that this person was more and more involved with the people side of management and less involved in the technical or the release side.
So I was obviously [00:32:00] trying to guide this person, but there was a moment, where again, radical candor, there's this moment where you need, after showing you care, let's be very clear. And that's when I use this idea that you don't work for HR. So if she's just concerned about the people topics, this is just too narrow for your function. And actually that led to a great discussion where, "okay, maybe I think I I'm good at this, so maybe I could pursue this as a career."
And then my advice at this stage would be "Okay, obviously that's an option, but if you do that, then you're going to be so close to HR that in terms of career, in terms of, your differentiation, you're going to play head to head with HR people. So in terms of the value that you can bring to a company, people that [00:33:00] can balance the two together and do a great job, they are not that common. So, and you have it. So if I were in your shoes, I would clearly invest on having these two roles, because in this case, as there's all the potential to do that. But again, personal choice." But that was by advice.
Eiso: We've spoken about going too far on the people side or, or going too far on the delivery side. Well, I know that Jason I've covered in quite a few episodes talking about the, let's call it the soft skills or, or the people's side, or someone recently said "the soft skills are actually the hard skills."
But in terms of, of taking this new leader that you were just talking to, what tools are you providing her to be able to develop the side that is really around delivery. And also maybe what we were just talking about. How does someone who has just become a team lead draw for their team, the link to the actual impact that the team is [00:34:00] looking to have?
Nuno: Essentially the, it's all about making sure that the business and the technology, it's part of their responsibilities. So being able to guide the team, not only in the people topics, but also in business, reminding them, asking questions, understanding what they're doing from a technology point of view. Being able to challenge them on all these areas. This is extremely important.
Also to earn their trust as a leader, especially when you're starting, if you don't show that you can also be a good tech lead that you understand the business that you know how to have impact, usually you might tend to struggle a little bit there. To really earn the trust of the team, if you can work on that side so that, so that you can influence and you can guide them also on these areas, it's usually much more powerful.
Jason: I like to have this [00:35:00] conversation with folks when I find that they, again, going back to balance, they're kind of out of balance. And I find that people can get out of balance in many different ways, but a very common one is to be out of balance on the people's side. But if you want to reframe it, which is, extracurricular this is how I do it, which is, "Hey, when the job is done, when your core job is done and you've got time left, how can you spend that time? It is up to you. We can figure that out based on your interests and skills and abilities and that nature. But if the core job is not done and that, that is not there, you've not earned the right to go do the other things just yet." And you, if you start to reframe it that way it helps people understand.
And then there might be an expectation, mismatch difference too, which is, "Well, I understand. But I don't actually enjoy that portion of the job, I prefer these." Then we have a roll mismatch because the job is the stuff you dislike. And if you like the other things that there is a [00:36:00] core function that looks like that, and some other part of the org in all likelihood. And if that's what you want to focus on, then we can go put you over there, which I think is what you were saying with, "you don't work for HR" in that specific scenario. So if you wanted to focus on that, we can, we could have that discussion, but it wouldn't be in this role. This role has something different and we need something different out of that role.
Eiso: I think that's a great final summary. I'd love for you, Nuno, to leave us with some parting words today. And particularly for people who are thinking about making the shift to become a team lead or people who have recently done so.
Nuno: I think that getting back to vulnerability, ask for help, don't try to do it all on your own. Make sure to get some support. It's very easy to be lost. It's a new role. So it requires new tools. You still probably don't master those tools and that's fine. That's fine. you're learning something new, you need to crawl and then walk before you [00:37:00] run. So that's fine. So find someone that can help you. If your manager is a great manager, a great leader. Perfect. If not, try to reach out, mentor with some other people in your organization, outside the organization, read some books, join some communities, listen to this podcast. But don't, don't just put it on your shoulders to make this journey on your own. It's much easier when you have someone do it with you.
Eiso: Thank you so Nuno, this was fantastic.
Nuno: Thank you Eiso, thank you Jason, it's been [00:38:00] great.