To foster innovation, leaders should guide others through the exploration of potential solutions and provide resources like educational books recounting their journey to tech leadership. One such book is Think Like a Software Engineering Manager by Akanksha Gupta, for which WomenTech Network has been granted an exclusive preview. This book serves as a comprehensive guide to success in software leadership, providing readers with the necessary tools and knowledge to reach new heights.
But what else do you need to accelerate your success in tech leadership besides inspiring resources?
We recently interviewed three successful tech professionals in order to gain valuable insights that can benefit both new and veteran managers looking for ways to take their careers to the next level. Our hope is that this information will provide aspiring technical leaders with the knowledge they need on their journey up the ladder of success.
Listed below are 5 primary directions which have proved advantageous according to their experience:
Mentorship is an indispensable asset for those aspirational tech leaders who want to make a mark. Mentors can be great resources when it comes to problem-solving, best practices, and industry trends; they also share valuable insight into the culture of potential organizations you may wish to join and how best to present yourself during interviews.
Himabindu Tummala, Distinguished Engineer at Dell Technologies: "It takes a village to "raise a career": Think of the career as a journey and you need allies, mentors, champions, and a great team to be part of your journey. When attending a meeting, prepare yourself with the details but keep an open mind to be informed and corrected, and change your opinion."
Sharda Kumari, Staff System Engineer at Airbnb: "The acquisition of a mentor or ally to offer you guidance and unwavering support is a pragmatic means to foster personal and professional development. Seek out individuals who share your vision and values, and remain unafraid to leverage their expertise to achieve your objectives. As a woman in this field, your singular perspective and voice are assets that can contribute meaningfully to the tech industry's growth and advancement."
Self-confidence is an essential trait for those aspiring to become a leader in the tech industry. Without it, you may act cautiously and be unable to make decisions together with your team or express views that challenge the status quo. Being self-confident means having faith in your abilities and ideas, as well as being open to learning tasks outside of your comfort zone.
Akanksha Gupta, Engineering Leader at Amazon: "For new managers, my main advice is to recognize the significant responsibility that comes with the role and lead by example. As managers, our actions have a significant impact on our team and it is crucial that we set a positive example. This can help inspire employees, build trust, and boost morale. A key principle to keep in mind is to never ask someone to do something that you wouldn't be willing to do yourself. In my own experience, leading by example has been effective."
Sharda: "The field of engineering is characterized by its constant evolution and the contributions of women in this domain remain relatively low. For this reason, it is of paramount importance that women harbor unwavering confidence in their abilities and intellect. Mistakes are not setbacks, but rather, a springboard for refinement and growth."
Himabindu: "In any forum speak up, don't wait for someone to ask for your opinion. Remember if you don't speak they don't know what you bring to the table, there are no mind readers. In meetings, take a seat at the table, don't sit in a corner or in a back row."
Sharda: "By connecting with other women in tech, we can create a supportive community where we can exchange ideas, resources, and advice, and draw inspiration from those who have faced similar challenges. Networking also provides a platform for women to assert their presence in the industry, expand their knowledge, and advance their careers. I strongly urge all women in tech to prioritize networking and actively seek out events, conferences, and workshops to connect with other professionals in the field."
Himabindu: "Learning never stops: Make it a goal to learn something new every quarter, you can do this by following technology updates from different industry forms and being curious. Even if you are not an expert on a topic in a meeting, pay attention to discussions in the meeting and connect the dots."
Listen to Your Team
Only great leaders can design strategies that effectively motivate and nurture their staff. Listening also allows leaders to better understand how each individual contributes to the success of the organization. With this knowledge, they can create an environment where everyone is actively engaged and empowered to be successful.
Akanksha: "I once received advice that taking care of your team will result in them taking care of you. As an effective engineering leader, it is crucial to demonstrate empathy and gratitude towards those around you. Listening to your team members and being open to their ideas will help build trust and promote innovation, particularly during these unprecedented times."
Thinking of the Bigger Picture
Thinking of the bigger picture helps a tech leader to understand the problems that need to be solved in order to complete a project. It also provides an overview of what is achievable and how it can benefit the company as a whole. By looking at the larger context, tech leaders are better able to make informed decisions about which technologies and strategies should be used.
Himabindu: "When learning new technology, understand its applications to customers and business. When solving problems, step back and understand the ecosystem where the problem is coming from and provide a complete solution."