Your Journey in This Course

Learn about your path and journey through the course.

The righteous path

The problem with management, especially in the technology industry, is that many of us haven’t been planning to do so for very long. The same can’t be said about creating software. Many of us tinkered with building websites, did online programming tutorials, or sketched out pictures of what we thought great software would look like way before we got a formal education or started getting paid for it.

This means that we haven’t had enough preparation, we haven’t done any formal education, and we haven’t much of an idea about what we should be doing as managers. We can only learn on the job and from those around us, and we can’t offer any guarantee that the way that we are managing others is the “right” way.

I certainly didn’t plan to be a manager. When I joined a local startup, I had just finished my PhD in compilers. For the previous twelve months, I was trying to find an academic role, but I failed. I had to do something else. I decided to give writing back-end code a try instead. It was fun, and I built some cool stuff. However, I had no idea where I wanted my career to go. Would I be writing code forever until I retired? What is my path?

As the startup grew rapidly, teams began to form. I asked whether I could be considered to manage one of those teams, mostly out of curiosity, and the rest is history.

I didn’t know how to be a manager, so I bought books, lots and lots of books. They were stacked on my desk in the office and also at home. Some were good, but many were bad. Few gave practical advice that I could actually implement in my job. It’s all well and good learning how the CEO of a Fortune 500 company spends their day, but how does that apply to me? I just wanted to know I was doing the right thing for me and my team.

Searching online for advice was even worse, and I found a mixture of contradictory information. Some of it was written by people clearly pushing their coaching services. Others felt wrong, old fashioned, or irrelevant. I didn’t need 7 Ways to Motivate My Staff nor did I need to know The One Thing to Make Your Team a Success. What I really needed to know was what I should be doing each day, week, and month to become a better manager and make my team better as a result.

That was almost nine years ago. Unfortunately, the situation hasn’t changed much for new managers. I still talk to people who are running a team for the first time that find themselves without support, suitable role models, or the ability to confidently say that they are doing a good job. This is a tremendous shame, since managing people can be one of the most rewarding jobs out there.

Consider this: you can create the conditions that allow others to succeed, to learn, to feel psychologically safe, and to be creative. You can be the person who helps your staff grow and achieve way beyond the level they thought was possible. You can create a team that allows people to enjoy going to work each day, ready to tackle challenging problems together. Twenty years from now, you can come to mind when your staff members are asked when their careers began to take off. Yes, that really can be you, and this course will show you how.

Management and leadership

The word management has a bad rap. Management may conjure up images of stuffy people in suits carrying stacks of papers in leather binders, layers of bureaucracy, and pointless activities to maintain high-paying jobs in a hierarchy. Instead, leadership may be the role you’re striving for. You may imagine leadership as being the inspirational figure that others look up to, giving a talk to your department to rapturous applause, and being on the “40 Under 40” list. However, management and leadership are not disparate. They are strongly linked.

Management is the method and tools that you use to perform your job as a manager. However, using them well, while also being a humble and caring human being, will elevate you higher. You will act with respect, grace, and consideration. You will provide honest and candid conversation. You’ll practice what you preach through your actions. These qualities will make you into a leader.

This is because diligent, skillful, and empathetic management is hard. It is a rare skill, but it’s a skill that you can harness if you read these pages, learn some new concepts, and go out and do them. Much like writing software, management is a craft. You’ll get better every day. It’s an art, not a science. It’s a mixture of your creativity, your personality, your heart, your mind, your ethics, and your values. You can be a manager and leader that others look up to, that others want to work for, and that you enjoy being every day.

Your journey

You may be at different stages of your journey. You may have picked up this course because you were interested in whether being a manager is something that you might like to do. You may have just been promoted within your existing company. You may have taken a leap into being a manager somewhere completely new. It doesn’t matter where you are, you will find value in these pages. Even if you never become a manager, you will better understand how they work, and you will discover plenty of tools and techniques that are applicable to anyone, regardless of what job they are doing.

However, for the purpose of this course, we’re going to imagine that you’ve turned up for the first day of your first managerial role in a new company. We’re going to start afresh together and build from the ground up. It’s going to be fun, and I’m honored that we’re going to go on that journey with you.