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3 Ways I Lead Through Leaders


When I was a strong senior engineer I could execute things no problem. Give me some ambiguous scope, a tight deadline, and a goal and I’d figure out how to make that happen.

I thought, great, this will get me to the next level, right? Nope.

My manager told me that to get to staff I need to help the whole team execute the way I was executing. It’s no longer enough to do great work, it was time for me to build up the entire team so anyone could execute things just like I did.

1. Mentor senior+ level engineers

It’s not enough anymore to mentor people below your level, start helping people at your level or above (yes you can help staff engineers!).

There’s tons of ways you can make this happen:

  • Ask if someone wants regular 1:1s just to have someone to talk through problems (e.g. a rubber duck buddy)
  • Find staff engineers that are new to the company, reach out and see how you can support them
  • Review pull requests (PRs) and design docs outside of your direct project
  • Answer unanswered questions in channels that you are not responsible of

2. Document and implement processes

If you’re really good at something, chances are there’s a process you follow with each project, release, design, etc. Now let’s take it to the next level, how can you formalize this process? And even better, how do you get others to adopt this process?

This is where you need to learn to sell to other engineers. People don’t adopt new processes for no reason, it needs to be 10x better than what they’re already doing for them to adopt it. How can you prove that it is?

3. Take ownership of the success of ALL projects on your team

As a staff engineer if a project doesn’t go well on my team I don’t think “not my problem 🤷🏾‍♂️” anymore, because it is my problem!

As a leader you want to support other directly responsible individuals (DRIs) on your team and if you notice something going wrong, jump in!

Some ways you can support the success of all projects:

Call out if you notice a project is consistently missing it’s weekly/sprint goals Jump in to help with a project if they’re falling behind (e.g. if there’s a few people unexpectedly out sick) Offer 1:1s to the DRIs


If you’re reading this, you’re probably a pretty high performing engineer and can get shit done. Let’s figure out how you can spread that across your team and pillar.

Want to chat about your game plan to lead through leaders? Reply to this email! I’d love to chat :)

Thanks for reading!


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