An engineering manager that I have the privilege of working with just asked me for three expectations of a principal engineer for a project that he is working on to mentor senior engineers at Twilio. Here is the list that I came up with.
- Skate to where the puck is going: Are you waiting to be told what to do or are you getting a sense for our product vision and making concrete suggestions for what technical work needs to be done to get us in a good place when it becomes time to execute?
- Act like an owner: Are you complaining about what's broken or offering solutions and/or alternative ways of thinking that makes it clear to engineers close to the problem that they can play an important role in solving those problems? Do you accept the world as it is or are you willing to provide a compelling vision for how it could be?
- Teach and lead: You're not getting more hours in the day. Taking on all of the hard work not only makes you a single point of failure, it robs your colleagues of the ability to grow their skillset and do compelling work that makes a difference. How have you empowered others on your team to tackle hard problems that they might not have had to the courage to otherwise?