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From leading through an economic downturn, to embracing risk, we rounded out the year covering some pertinent topics for engineering leaders as we move into 2023.

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In no particular order, here are the five articles you absolutely need to read from December on LeadDev.

1. James Stanier, Encouraging autonomy within engineering teams

How to build teams that don't need you is a challenge we hear all the time from engineering managers. Luckily, Director of Engineering at Shopify, James Stanier, writes brilliantly on the topic.

“Running a successful team is about relinquishing that control. It’s about delegation, self-organization, and ensuring that the team intuitively knows what the most important thing to be working on is,” he writes.

2. Yonatan Zunger, When, not if: The playbook method for managing risk

When you’ve had a career like Yonatan Zunger has – 14 years at Google, distinguished engineer at Twitter and now at Microsoft – you learn a thing or two about managing risk and building systems that can withstand things going wrong. Here, Zunger draws from that experience to lay out his playbook for managing risk.

“I want to discuss an alternative approach based on ideas from site reliability engineering: one which starts, not by asking if something will go wrong, but by assuming it will go wrong, and requiring a plan for what you’ll do when it does,” he writes.

3. Lena Reinhard, How to lead through an economic downturn

As the economic picture continues to darken around us, leadership coach Lena Reinhard has some clear steps every engineering manager should take to prepare for the oncoming storm.

“Leading in an economic downturn is challenging for you and for your teams. Applying the principles outlined here will help you change the way you think and operate, and will help you be the leader that your business and your team needs during this time of uncertainty,” she writes.

4. Gina Trapani, How to make plans for an uncertain future

Uncertainty has certainly been a theme for the past year, but Postlight CEO Gina Trapani isn’t letting that stop her from making plans for the future.

“Humans tend to overreact when things go wrong, because it feels dire and catastrophic. But the truth is, downtimes are utterly normal. Paranoid optimists know that things get better in the long term, but in the short term, there will be times when things get worse. The key is to make plans and build organizations that are resilient enough to withstand these downturns,” she writes.

5. Nikos Galifianakis and Laura Pearce, Creating a career progression framework for engineers

It’s an age-old challenge for engineering managers: how to build an effective and transparent career progression framework that promotes engineers based on their talents, instead of shoehorning them into unsuitable roles. In this joint post, Head of Engineering, Nikos Galifianakis, and HR Business Partner, Laura Pearce, from Secret Escapes walk us through the framework they landed on.

“It was becoming increasingly obvious that we needed a more structured process. We started working together to create a transparent, structured, and relevant framework for professional development,” they write.