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How to Become a Great Engineering Manager

By John Lafleur 2 minutes read

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I wrote recently about the attributes of a 10x software engineer and a 20x one. I consequently received a few comments suggesting I create a similar list for engineering managers. I checked online and found a few articles, but none conveyed a full list in my mind. If you consider that software development efficiency has become the number one priority for executives, above access to engineering talent or capital, then I guess that’s a topic worth discussing! Engineering managers just might have the biggest impact on the productivity of their engineering teams.

I’ll first go over the attributes for a good engineering manager, and then list what makes a great one.

The 10 Attributes of a Good Engineering Manager

I tried to prioritize this list, from essential to bonus. Feel free to give me your opinion on this in the comments.

  1. Be trusting
  2. Emotional intelligence and ability to establish trust
  3. Ability to shield the team from interruptions
  4. Ability to manage the team’s motivation
  5. Strong work ethic and cohesion with company culture
  6. Advocate for change to seek positive evolution in a constant manner
  7. Ability to work with departments outside of engineering
  8. Mentoring abilities
  9. Technical literacy and problem-solving skills
  10. Ability to make hard decisions and manage conflicts

So How Can You Become a Great Engineering Manager?

  1. Embody the vision
  2. Support your team in the short and long term
  3. Challenge the team to grow faster
  4. Embrace the differences
  5. Level up the product and engineering partnership
  6. Know themselves and educate others about themselves
  7. Push their team for ownership as much as possible
  8. Understand the system’s bigger limitations

This concludes my list of the attributes of good to great engineering managers. If you think of any I’ve overlooked or have any ideas or suggestions to add, I would love to hear your thoughts! Please leave your comments and opinions below!


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