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Programming Leadership

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A podcast to help great coders become skilled leaders, and build happy, high-performing software teams.

A podcast to help great coders become skilled leaders, and build happy, high-performing software teams.
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A podcast to help great coders become skilled leaders, and build happy, high-performing software teams.




Managing to Solve An Elegant Puzzle with Will Larson

At Stripe, guest Will Larson received his first official management training by an employer. It taught him about different management styles, problem solving, and more. But most employees don’t get management training, which can cause problems down the road. Marcus and Will discuss this, plus what it takes to handle leadership roles. Show Notes Most coders don’t aspire to be managers“there's that idea that really if you think about the consequences and the kind of statefulness of these...


Monkeys and Rocks with Matt Greenberg

If a friend asks you to help them move something heavy, like a rock, you probably wouldn’t think twice. But if they asked you to take care of their pet monkey… That’s the beginning of our chat with Matt Greenberg, Vice President of Engineering at Credit Karma, who compares problems of various types and sizes to monkeys and rocks. The goal of effective leaders should be to break down bigger problems into smaller ones, going from monkey-sized problems to smaller, rock-sized ones. Show...


Dynamic Reteaming with Heidi Helfand

The only constant is change, and Heidi Helfand knows a thing or two about changes in organizations. From reteamining to reorganizations to just shuffling a member or two, in this episode we’ll learn how to think about these inevitable changes and what to do when they happen. Show Notes What are some of the kinds of change that a team might undergo?Dynamic reteaming comes in these five structural patternsThe metaphor of the eco-cycleDifferent types of mentoringWhat does it mean to have a...


Putting the Emotion Into EQ with Etienne de Bruin

Emotional intelligence is essential to good leadership, but many CTO’s stress the importance of IQ instead. To move from contributor to manager, it’s a good idea to invest the time to explore EQ, as well as personality profiles to better understand how to manage people. Show Notes Managing expectationsEmotional Intelligence 2.0DISC profilesAvoidance and collaborationDealing with conflictReal leadershipIt takes practice to change old habitsLinks: https://7ctos.comHumbleDot


The Importance of Proper Feedback

Do people really crave feedback? That’s the assumption a lot of managers make, so in this episode we’ll talk about what feedback really means and how you can give it in a meaningful, productive manner. Show Notes What is the history of feedback?Your output becomes their inputThe limits of perceptionUsing attention properlyYour people are NOT rose bushesKeeping things positiveLinks: Sponsor: GitPrime


Lessons Learned on the Path to Managing with Amy Phillips and Aaron Randall

In this episode, we’re talking to Amy Phillips and Aaron Randall (CTO of Songkick) about the path from programmer to manager. How did they get there, what did they learn, and what can you learn from their experiences? Show Notes What lessons were learned in the early phases of their careers?How do you change when the industry changes?The importance of having difficult conversationsYou can’t know all the answersFinding balanceOn peers, managers, and building a support networkPromoting...


Authentic Feedback

We’ve all experienced feedback that was unhelpful - but why was it that way? Supervisors want to motivate us, and bring out our best, but perhaps they don’t always think about the feedback they’re giving. Is it really helpful? Is it addressing the real problem? What’s the context? In this episode, we’ll look at how our perceptions can change how we respond, and why authentic feedback is genuinely helpful. Show Notes Sometimes we ascribe motivations that aren’t there, causing us to provide...


There’s Always More Information

Breaking a problem down can help you see it more clearly, and attack the issues wrapped up in that problem more effectively. Sometimes we tackle problems that are large or connected to other issues, and it can be helpful to take a step back, consider other perspectives, get more information, and try breaking things down and solving each issue individually. Show Notes There’s always more information.Consider more sources of information.Challenge your assumptions, and try to integrate...


Motivation is NaN (Not a Number)

What motivates your programmers? In this episode, Marcus looks at the various factors that impact motivation, and why one of his engineers just wasn’t grooving on a project. Chances are you’ve got teammates who feel the same way. Guess what? It’s not that they’re lacking in motivation, it’s that they’re no longer motivated by what’s being given to them. Show Notes People ARE motivated, that’s why you hired them. They lose some of that when they aren’t given new challenges.Is it wise to...


How Develops Engineering Leadership Skills From Day 1 With Katie Womersley

There is an inherent difference between leaders and managers that is often overlooked. While most think that leaders are “born,” Katie Womersley, VP of Engineering at Buffer, disagrees. Leaders and managers both require skills that can be taught, and developing those employees from within the company can be the most timely and economically efficient way to do so. We also discuss the perception of status, authority, and vulnerability with the workplace. Show Notes What is Buffer?Leaders vs....


Imagine the Possibilities: How to Break Ties That Hinder Our Potential

Often times people find themselves in a place where they feel trapped or stagnant in their lives. It can be trapped in a job or in a relationship and making a change may not always be the easiest thing to do. Because we are human, we find ourselves in situations where it is hard to leave or change because we are connected to people, systems or organizations. In this episode of Programming Leadership, Jessica Kerr joins me to talk about the complex topic of moving out of stagnation and into...


Using Performance Improvement Plans the Right Way

Performance improvement plans (PIP) are difficult not just for the employee receiving the plan but also for the boss and others in upper management deciding to implement one. It’s easy for the employee to be upset or angry when put on a PIP but if used correctly, they can be a valuable tool for improving performance and building trust. In this episode of Programming Leadership, Marcus talks through a tough human resources topic and provides perspectives from both the employee and management...


From Engineer to Executive: An Interview with Eric Muntz of MailChimp

If you’ve ever wondered about what it could look like to go from being an engineer to the senior executive level of your company, you won’t want to miss this episode. This week on the Programming Leadership podcast, Marcus interviews Eric Muntz, the Senior Vice President of Engineering at MailChimp. They discuss Eric’s career shifts as well as the challenges and lessons he’s learned along the way. Show Notes One of the first lessons Eric learned in management was how to listen well. It’s...


Getting to Know You - The Key to Successful Leadership

Good leadership looks like a flock of birds. That doesn’t mean everyone on the team has to dress in feathers, rather it means leadership is dynamic, shifting, and also tight-knit. In this episode of Programming Leadership, Marcus talks about what it takes to be a good leader and provides real solutions on how to build trust and gain feedback from your team. Show Notes Being a young leader over a team with more experience requires emotional intelligence and collaboration in order to build...


Communication 101: Be Clear and Direct

Episode Description Have you ever wondered why people can't just be clear and direct? In this episode of the Programming Leadership podcast, we're going to discuss this problem, identify some possible root causes, and learn how we can be more simple and clear in our communications. Show Notes When you become a manager, you may find yourself using jargon without much forethought. Don't let yourself go there. You're only puffing yourself up and making your communications less clear.In...


Transitioning to Management with Confidence

This week, we’re talking about the programmer to manager to leader transition. What makes this transition hard? Is it possible to become a manager if you’re lacking good role models? How do you really become the leader you want to be proud of? Tune in to find answers to these questions and more. Show Notes Why is the programmer to manager to leader transition hard? For starters, you’re no longer “just” coding, so it feels like you’re leaving something you love. It’s also difficult to...


A Star is Learned

Tiger Woods wasn’t born golfing. He did spend time, lots of time, practicing and he became good at it. People have inherent traits but being good at something takes time, effort, and practice. In this episode of Programming Leadership, Marcus talks about the importance of not solely focusing on things that people are naturally good at. It’s important to branch out of our comfort zones and learn new skills and is it only with practice and learning that we become better at those skills. And...


Getting Real. Establishing Realistic Expectations for Yourself and Your Team

It’s a fact of life that people are imperfect, so why do we try as coders to be perfect in our jobs? It’s just not feasible nor rational. This episode of Programming Leadership sheds light on the unrealistic expectations that clients, bosses and ourselves set because we strive to be perfect in an imperfect world. Programmers need to set realistic goals with their bosses, teams and with themselves. It’s only when we get real, do real results happen. Show Notes Leadership is creating an...


So, What Is Leadership, Really?

This week on the Programming Leadership podcast, we’re diving into the theories and definitions of what leadership means and looks like (and even what it doesn’t look like)! Even if you wouldn’t call yourself a “natural born” leader, Marcus encourages you to remember that leadership is a process, requires learned skills and everyone has the building blocks to become a great leader. So, what are you waiting for? Tune in to find out how you can start building your leadership skills...


Managing vs. Leading: What’s the Difference?

This week on the Programming Leadership podcast, host Marcus Blankenship shares his core beliefs about what it truly means to be a manager. He discusses the differences between the management and leadership and highlights key aspects of leadership that inspires anyone, regardless of job title or natural born talents, to step up and lead with confidence. Show Notes It’s important to find out what it takes to be a great leader, even if you never get promoted to manager. And that’s exactly...