Morgan VanDerLeest

Coaching engineers with questions

An individual contributor's career path is defined by answers. Having the answer. Finding the answer. Learning the possible answers. Some of the best engineers are those who are entrusted to find answers quickly or craft a creative answer.

As an engineering leader, it's no longer about having the answer. We're not the closest to the problem anymore. We don't have all of the details. We aren't the active maintainers. You may think you have the answer. "Oh I've seen the situation before, we should do this."

But you haven't seen this situation before. Not with this system, with these people, or at this time. Those things are never the same twice.

What we do have is our experience and the experience of our teams. We can help our team's think more clearly, make connections, and bring the best of themselves to every situation.

We can do this by shifting our focus from having answers to asking questions. How do we help the engineers around us to discover? To share? To learn? How do we guide their experience in such a way that it is still an experience for them?

Developing this questioning mindset and instilling it in your team will unlock the best coach in you. And it will help bring out the best in them.

Submitted as a CFP