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General

What surprised me the most from the simulation.

I’ll keep this brief.  The most surprising part of last week’s leadership training simulation was when someone asked me: Are you really a clueless manager, or are you playing a role? My dirty-little-secret?  I wish I could say it was all an act, but it wasn’t.   That night in the hotel I reflected on the…

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“Dude, crank it to the left!”

I’m on “vacation” this week, which means I’m writing you from a trailer on the Oregon coast.  I was backing my travel trailer into the campsite when a voice boomed from the bushes: “Dude, crank it to the left!” This 6′ 4″ guy with a buzz-cut emerges from the bushes and starts barking orders at…

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“Thanks for coming in on-time, Todd.”

I was chatting with my general contractor, and the subject of offering feedback to team members came up.  See if this sounds familiar. He said, “I get soooooo sick of nagging them to do things right, I feel like I’m constantly complaining.  I want to be a good boss, so now instead of complaining about…

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The repeating lesson from my #Velocity2017 training

Last week my wife, Amy, and I ran fifteen technical leaders through two days of leadership simulations, evoking laughter, conflict and even a few tears.  The situations may have been fake, but the emotions were real. In fact, the simulation was so real that people started cheating.  In fact, one participant cornered me in the hallway and…

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A learning from today’s simulation

I’m leading a Technology Leadership workshop in San Jose at Velocity Conference this week.  Thanks to the Experiential Learning Bundle by Jerry Weinberg (and his generosity to walk me through them), I’m pleased to report the first day went very well. We did a wonderful simulation from the Invention book called the “Tinkering with Toys” which…

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“How do I get sales to quit making bad deals?”

Casey asked this question today: “I find that taking on these clients makes it more stressful for everyone in the long run, but sales will take them on anyway…for the sale. I’d like to think to curate our clientele intentionally would weed out the bad seeds, but what about the business? How do I convince…

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Do you bite or hide?

Does this sound familiar? <start> January: “, I’m super excited to hire your team to build this.  Let’s do it!  When do we start?” February: “Hey, I’m too busy to meet this week.  Just email over what you have, and I’ll let you know how it looks.” March: “Hi, about that last the invoice…  Yeah, sorry, I’ve…

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Task or Relationship focused?

Quick trick question: Which is more important when running your team: being task focused or relationship focused? Of course, you know they both matter. As a technical leader, you can’t afford to neglect either one. But I sometimes didn’t balance very well, because I was better at one than the other. For example, I’m a…

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Decision delegation done wrong

Kendall wrote in with this question and was kind enough to allow me to share the answer with y’all. Hey Marcus, I’ve experienced that sort of thing where my boss delegates a decision back to me, but then I’m not afforded the time-capacity needed to learn more. The client wants an answer now, and if…

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Hokey Pokey-er to Ballroom Dancer

  Brad emailed me, ”Marcus, you bastard, tell me what you did! :)” Okay, okay.  Here’s what I did. I learned to delegate decisions to my team. And that simple change made all the difference. See, my team had become too dependent on my presence and had stopped thinking for themselves.  That made me feel…

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Are you doing the hokey pokey?

“You put your right foot in, you put your right foot out.  You put your right foot in, and you shake it all about.” That dance reminds me of the average day of a Technical Lead.  I was constantly jumping between everything that needs to get done right-the-hell-now, like… Code reviews. Coding. One-on-ones. Planning meetings. Interviews.…

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But I miss building things…

(This guest post is by Karen Degi.  Karen is new enough to software leadership that her idealism hasn’t yet been worn down. You can find more of her writing at https://medium.com/@sheearan. If you are interested in writing a guest post, email me at marcus@marcusblankenship.com) As a manager, it’s easy to feel helpless, randomized, and like you…

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Changing Jobs, Changing Roles

Changing Jobs, Changing Roles By Max Schubert, guest columnist I was one of two technical leads on a software development team at my previous employer that grew from 2 engineers to 14 over the course of 6 years. We had a manager who gave us a lot of autonomy, coached me very well, and who…

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[Video] Stop coding production tasks, seriously.

I know it’s hard, but you can’t be an effective COACH if you’re still acting like a PLAYER. Can you imagine if Michael Jordan split his time between coaching and practicing basketball?  He wouldn’t have been a great NBA player, and probably wouldn’t have been a good manager either. If you’re leading a team, you…

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