I did a recent AMA on Clubhouse and there were a lot of awesome, hard-hitting questions on the panel. So for the next several weeks, I’m going to write out my thoughts to each of the questions and how I answered them.

What skills (as leaders) do you value the most?

I’d say it’s a different answer depending on the kind of person I’m working with. I mostly interact with 4 kinds of people in my day-to-day:

  • Developers
  • Engineering managers
  • Product managers
  • Designers

Sure, there are a few fundamental skills that I covet regardless of profession: problem solving ability, clear communication, tact, and logic are on the top of that list. There are other things that aren’t strictly skills, like kindness and empathy, but they are worth calling out because they are attributes of people I love to work with.

For developers I’d add coding and systems design. We hire against those skills and software development is such a meritocratic profession that covets our core skills. Respect is held for those that can do any not just say.

For other engineering managers I value deduction and intuition. Management is more art than science so I really appreciate managers who just get it. A lot of that comes from experience and humility. I appreciate all of those things.

A product manager’s best skill is negotiation and dare I say charisma. They have so many stakeholders and so many hats to wear that everyone vies for their attention and priority. A great product manager can make everyone feel like they are the most important person in the room even if they have to make their needs a lower priority.

With designers I’d double down on empathy. Much of a designer’s job is based on user research and conceptualizing things for other humans. Empathy is even more important if your job is all about researching what your end customer needs, wants, and desires.

For everyone else, resort back to the fundamental skills. Kind, independent thinkers will never go out of style.

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