6 mins

We published more than 240 articles this year from a diverse range of voices to help you become better engineering leaders. Here’s our pick of the ten you must read as we turn into 2023.

It has been yet another year of ups and downs for software engineers and their managers in 2022. The industry has been rocked by tidal waves of mass layoffs, significant takeovers, crypto crashes, and major AI advancements, all of which could reshape the role of engineers for years to come.

Despite all of this, the LeadDev community continues to help each other navigate this rapidly changing landscape. This year we’ve delivered eight in-person events, where over 8,000 attendees met in-person once again. We’ve run online webinars, hosted some incredible Bookmarked sessions with best-selling technology and leadership authors, and Wrapped up the year with our best of the best digital event. And we’ve of course kept you all in the loop with a steady stream of insightful articles from our brilliant network of contributors.

If you missed them, here are our must reads from 2022!

  1. Addy Osmani, Setting a vision, mission and strategy for your team

Addy Osmani, Head of Chrome Developer Experience at Google, explains why defining your team’s long-term vision and mission should be one of your first priorities as an engineering leader. Whilst setting your North Star is no mean feat, having one undoubtedly provides teams with the direction and a strategy to help everyone get there. This article walks through the key steps for setting a vision, mission, and strategy, with clear examples and explanations along the way.

  1. Camille Fournier, The secret to getting to the Staff+ level? Leverage

In this article, Camille Fournier, author of The Manager’s Path, identifies a common Achilles heel for staff engineers; navigating the ambiguity of the role and the career ladder as a senior individual contributor (IC). Demonstrating impact for a promotion is arguably easier for a manager with direct reports and clear KPIs. The path for a senior IC without a clearly defined route to progression can be a lot murkier. Which is why developing these four different forms of leverage – interpersonal, execution, strategic, and expert – might just be the answer.

“So you want to keep getting promoted as an engineer, and you don’t want to turn into a manager. You need to develop skills that give you the leverage to show bigger value to the company,” she writes.

  1. Cassidy Williams, How to break the cycle of tech debt

No one is immune to the inevitable cycle of technical debt. In this article, Cassidy Williams, CTO at Contenda, outlines the different options for creating a sustainable plan to break out of the tech debt cycle, and the questions you can ask to put tech debt in the front and center of the minds of key decision makers within your organization. TL;DR, make it a priority!

“Whether tech debt is a part of a roadmap or not, it’s important to constantly address it. It breaks the vicious cycle of growing debt, and improves an individual developer’s experience tenfold over time,” she writes.

  1. Mugdha Myers, Five management anti-patterns and why they happen

In this highly entertaining article by Engineering Leader Mudgha Myers, you will meet the five caricatures of counterproductive management styles; the bottleneck, the sphinx, the sh*t funnel, the wrecking ball, and the wallflower. Myers explains how each of these management styles creates their own issues for the team, catalyzes resignations, slows down processes, returns poor performance evaluations, and creates demoralized and unproductive teams. If any of these characters sound a little familiar, you’ll also find ways to reverse or avoid these management styles within each outlined anti-pattern.

  1. Scott Carey, What US engineering managers can expect to earn in 2022.

If you’re wondering how to benchmark your senior developer and engineering managers’ salaries in the new year, or you’re looking to negotiate your own salary for a new role or pay review, we’ve got you covered. We also have you covered if you are based in the UK,

  1. Kevin Stewart, Should engineering managers write code?

“The good news is that you can [code], the bad news is that you shouldn’t.”

Transitioning from a senior engineer to a management role means a lot of adjustment, including relinquishing the accomplished feeling of finally getting that code to work, or resolving a tough bug. As your responsibilities shift, you have less ‘heads down’ time and subsequently the source of your satisfaction starts to pivot too. Fortunately, Kevin Stewart, VP of Engineering at Harvest, is here to help you manage that pivot.

  1. Lena Reinard, How to lead through an economic downturn

Leadership and executive coach Lena Reinhard is here to address the elephant in the room: how engineering leaders can prepare for looming recession fears, a cost of living crisis, and the recent round of big tech layoffs. The good news is you can still be an efficient and empathetic leader during an economic downturn by following these seven key principles.

  1. Swati Swoboda, How to lead when you’re going through a personal crisis

Leaders can often be desensitized to their own crises because they’re typically the support system for the rest of the team. In this article, Swati Swoboda shares her experience of trying to juggle managing a team while facing a personal crisis. She shares why it's so important to lead by example when it comes to feeling overwhelmed at work and how this can positively impact the team.

  1. Ryan Harter, Getting credit for invisible work at the Staff+ level

Being a senior IC and having an ambiguous role seem to be synonymous with one another, and Ryan’s role of Senior Staff Data Scientist at Shopify is no exception. Here, he explores the challenge that staff engineers face when trying to demonstrate value for work that often goes unnoticed.

“It’s easy to get recognition for fighting fires, but it’s hard to get recognized for preventing fires,” he writes. If you’re struggling to articulate your value, this article outlines some great strategies for making your Staff+ superpowers understandable and visible to your manager and the wider organization.

  1. Pat Kua, Three things that are limiting your impact as an engineer

In this article, Pat Kua details the three common traps that are likely limiting your impact as a software engineer and what you can do to avoid them:

  1. Failing to build context and understanding
  2. Focussing on (only) highlighting problems
  3. Forgetting about the when, not just the what

By building better relationships, you can avoid scenarios that will ultimately limit your progression as a software engineer, create stronger bonds with your colleagues, and tackle the problems that need solving.

If you’ve been inspired by any of these articles, you can submit a talk proposal or article idea for the new year. We’d love to hear from you!

But most of all, happy New Year from everyone at LeadDev!