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Hiring the Right Engineering Manager: Beyond Technical Excellence

In the technology industry, the role of an engineering manager is multifaceted and crucial. From leading teams to fostering innovation, their responsibilities extend far beyond mere technical expertise. Let's explore the complex process of hiring and nurturing successful engineering managers.

1. Beyond Technical Skills: Finding a Leader

The common belief that the best engineers naturally become the best managers can be misleading. While technical competence is essential, leadership requires a different skill set. A great engineer focuses on solving problems independently, while a great manager nurtures teamwork and enables others to grow.

Great engineers can transform into excellent leaders. The key lies in a shift from personal problem-solving to coaching and mentoring others. This transformation can be a delicate process, as many top engineers fail at leading if they can't relinquish their individual problem-solving mindset. Resources such as the Harvard Business Review's article on transforming technical expertise into leadership can provide valuable guidance.

2. Overlooked Qualities: Risk-Taking, Curiosity, Communication, and Versatility

Risk-taking and curiosity, as highlighted in a study by, are often overlooked yet essential traits of successful engineering managers. These qualities lead to innovation and adaptability.

Communication across different stakeholder groups is equally vital. An adept engineering manager must grasp both broad and technical concepts, ensuring alignment and collaboration across various organizational levels.

In mid-sized firms, engineering managers often need to be generalists, embracing multiple roles from line-management to ad hoc technical tasks. This flexibility ensures responsiveness to diverse organizational needs and aligns well with the multifaceted nature of the role.

3. After the Hire: Retention and Growth

Once you've hired a great engineering manager, the journey of retention and growth begins. These professionals often seek to evolve into more strategic roles, guided by their ambitions and curiosity.

Providing coaching and role model guidance in strategic areas fosters continuous growth and job satisfaction. This investment not only ensures loyalty but also the manager's continued contributions to organizational success.


Hiring the ideal engineering manager is a nuanced endeavor that transcends technical abilities. By recognizing the importance of leadership, communication, adaptability, and a willingness to embrace diverse roles, organizations can identify and develop the engineering managers who will lead them toward a future filled with innovation and achievement.

By joining forces in the pursuit of comprehensive and empathetic leadership, we pave the way for a more collaborative and innovative tech landscape. Together, we can inspire and empower the tech leaders of tomorrow.


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