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Most of us aspire to be great engineering leaders, but honestly, who has the time? I

If you’re anything like me, you’re probably so busy putting out fires and rushing between meetings and high-priority initiatives that your well-intentioned thoughts of “leading well” go out the window in favor of just getting things done. You’re not a bad leader; you just don’t have time or energy to give “great leadership” much thought. 

This approach—moving initiatives across the line through our own directed effort and sheer force of will (and maybe working on weekends)—can only take us so far. After all, when you’re feeling tired or burned out, it’s hard to imagine another 3 months in your job, let alone another 30 years in your career. 

It’s time for an easier way to show up as great leaders (no burnout required). This talk will introduce audiences to the Scrappy/Scale Mindset, a dead-simple framework for leaders that I developed while building high-performing engineering teams at The Washington Post and The Atlantic. “Scrappy/Scale” is a framework for interrogating assumptions about how you need to show up as a leader in any given situation, as well as a useful tool for evaluating your own needs and career trajectory. 

Together, we’ll unpack the two working modes common to product engineering teams, explore what teams in each mode need from a technical leader, and learn how to adapt our own leadership style based on the context our team is in. If scrappy work is what gets us to where we want to be, scale initiatives are what keep us there. By cultivating these two modes of leadership thinking and the skills required for each, great engineering leaders can break free from fire fighting and develop a personal framework for both managing themselves and developing others.