Embracing Your Inner “Latent Leader,” With Roger Deetz

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This week, on the Scaling Software Teams podcast, we talked to Roger Deetz, VP of Engineering at Indianapolis-based Springbuk, and the former Vice President of Engineering at ANGI Home Services.

Roger is the textbook definition of a software leader, but for years, he prided himself on not claiming that title. He was a creator, a builder - not a manager - but as Roger’s career progressed, he realized this narrative was both counterproductive and not an accurate representation of who he was.

Transitioning from a software engineering role to a team leader, Roger notes, is challenging, because the definition of work changes. “Being productive” as an individual contributor is measured differently than your productivity as a manager.

Roger dreamt of building great things, but, by definition, if he was going to build the things that he aspired to build, he had to manage people. As he said, the definition of leadership is “someone who gets results through others,” and for him to achieve the results he wanted, he needed to lead a team.

But as he reflects on his life, Roger realizes he always had it in him... he just didn’t know it yet. He was, to borrow his own words, a “latent leader.”

This adjustment is one that many developers struggle with, and Roger’s story illustrates ways that you can work to overcome those psychological barriers in your own career

Listen to the Full Episode Here

Here are a few of the key lessons we picked up from Roger Deetz:

Lead by Influence, Not By Mandate

As Roger notes, "You can play the boss card, but you only have two boss cards in your whole deck."

This is vital to remember for those of us in leadership roles: just because your direct report does what you tell them to do doesn’t mean you have their buy-in on a task or project.

Instead, it’s important to understand what motivates each member of your team, then work to provide them with the intrinsic motivation they need to do their best work.

Focus on Cultural Add, Not Cultural Fit

As leaders, we all want to create an inclusive environment where everyone feels welcome, but if you try to find people who “fit” within your existing team, you’ll never hire anyone different from yourself. Instead, we all need to focus on finding people that will make our culture richer by complementing and adding to it.

Screen Candidates Based On Their Ability To Work With Others

The core of engineering is working well with others. You’re not hiring a code machine, you’re hiring a human who has to work with other humans. By using a screening solution like Woven, you can ensure that you’re hiring people who work well with others and communicate effectively.  

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This show is brought to you by Woven. At Woven, we help software teams screen engineering candidates so they can spend less time on bad interviews, uncover hidden gems, and back their hiring decisions with evidence. If you want to learn more about how Woven could help you scale your software team, you can check us out here.

We’re excited to help you build your perfect software team, and we’re always looking for your feedback about how to make the show better. If you have anyone you think we should interview, tweet us at @woven_teams and our team will reach out.

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Tim Hickle