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DCR Step 9: Replace Yourself

Published 11/16/2016

In today's episode, we cover the final step in the Developer Career Roadmap: Replace Yourself.

In today's episode, we discuss a lot of topics that we've covered in the past. Make sure you go and search for these topics at https://spec.fm/podcasts/developer-tea, and thank again again for continuing to listen to this podcast!

Today's episode is sponsored by Dolby. One of the most important things you can do for your application is ensure that the quality of your audio is strong. Check out how Dolby can help you at spec.fm/dolby.

Transcript (Generated by OpenAI Whisper)
Hey, everyone and welcome to Developer Tea. My name is Jonathan Cutrell and in today's episode we are covering the last step in the Developer Career Roadmap. Before we jump into today's episode, I want to take a minute to thank you all for listening to this show. You know, we've mentioned that there is a huge milestone that we're going to be crossing this week. Very likely this episode will be the one that puts us over the edge on that milestone. And I'm incredibly thankful for each and every one of you. And quite honestly, I couldn't pick a better topic to be this kind of milestone episode. I'm very excited to talk to you about this. We're talking about the topic of replacing yourself. You may be thinking that it sounds kind of odd to work all this way in the Developer Career Roadmap to go through all of these steps to end up replacing yourself. But the reality is most great leaders and most great developers, they actually take a lot of time replacing themselves. And what do we mean by replacing yourself? Well, really, what we're saying is replicating yourself. And most of the time, when you replicate yourself, in other words, when you replicate your values and when you replicate the skill sets that you've acquired and the experience that you have acquired when you take the time to mentor younger developers or developers who are simply earlier in their career and earlier on this roadmap that we're talking about here. When you take that time to do that, what you end up doing most of the time is accepting new responsibilities. And for most people, that usually means taking on a different title. When you are early in your career, your markers of success are typically title changes. So you go from an entry level position or an internship and then you move on to a junior level position or then to an associate position, a senior position and so forth. And every organization has a different way of explaining these title changes. It won't be an actual title change. It may just be a jump in pay or maybe a slightly different set of responsibilities or access level. But these are the markers of success early in your career. But as you get later into your career, especially as you take on more leadership roles in your career, which most people, as they get into advanced stages of a development career, they take on leadership roles. As you get to that stage, it's no longer those jumps in access level. It's no longer the title changes. Most of the time you are at kind of the maximum position that you can be in at that late stage in your career. Instead, what you're going to see is your marker of success is the success of those you lead. Let me say that again. The marker of your personal success will now be transparent and people will see you by the success of those that you lead. And while this is obviously true for larger companies, for example, the CEO of a major tech giant, obviously their success is really dependent on how well the stocks say they are doing, how well the company is performing. But really, this is also very true at a much smaller scale. We've talked about this over and over and over on the show. And I want you to get it more clearly in today's episode than any other episode because really, this is the ultimate step in your career. When you can learn that your capacity to empower others is your strongest, most important opportunity that you can seize in your career that's going to open up brand new possibilities for the remainder of your career. You will always have the opportunity to empower others and help them walk down this same path, help them walk down the developer career roadmap. Perhaps you share with them some of the things you've learned on this show or another podcast. Perhaps you share with them some of the things you've learned in books that you've read or even better than any of those things. Perhaps you share with them what you've learned from your tangible experiences working in this field. But when you take the time to invest in others, you are creating more value than you could ever create just on your own. Remember in the last episode we talked about this becoming irreplaceable? This concept is a little bit difficult to understand because we're encoded to think that irreplaceable means that I can do something that no one else can do. But in fact, the most irreplaceable people are those that empower others to do something that they couldn't do before, something that they never thought they would be able to do. We're going to take a quick sponsor break and then we're going to come back and talk about how you can be an effective mentor. I'm going to give you three specific tips as to how you can become an effective mentor and end up replacing yourself. Today's episode is sponsored by Dolby Audio. Now you may be listening to a developer podcast and a little bit blindsided by the fact that Dolby is sponsoring today's episode. But the reality is today's users want better audio, 90% of digital device users rank sound quality as important across the digital entertainment ecosystem. Now audio is not just about getting your audio into some simple stereo file. We've had digital for a long time. Now we can build Dolby digital stereo, but more than that we can actually do surround sound finally in our applications and not just native applications and not just for the desktop. We can do this in web applications and we can do it for example across the entire range of Apple's newest products. If you want to learn more about how Dolby can help you do this, by the way, the encoding process is very simple. You're going to use something like you already used for example, Adobe audition. Dolby Digital Plus will give you better dialogue, better clarity and it will allow you to deliver a multi-channel experience to your projects. The new iPhone 7 series and the latest iPad Pro series from Apple, they both support the playback of Dolby Digital Plus audio in video and audio only assets. Go and check it out, spec.fm slash Dolby. Again you shouldn't be taking audio for granted anymore in your applications. Audio can greatly enhance the user experience. Go and check it out. Again, spec.fm slash Dolby. Thank you again to Dolby for sponsoring today's episode. How can you be a great mentor? How can you effectively replace yourself and build value by leading other people, by empowering other people to become the best developer that they can become? And today I want to share three things that I think you should be practicing as a mentor. And these are not easy things. These are things that are going to take some time and you will likely pendulum swing back and forth between being good at these things and then feeling like you're absolutely terrible at them. But understanding that these are the things that you are working towards. Number one, help them but don't carry them. Help them but don't carry them. Of course, like a child learning to walk, if you simply hold that child's hand every time they try to walk, they may never actually have the experience of falling down or more importantly, developing those muscles and the stability necessary to walk on their own. So at a practical level, what being a mentor in the workplace often looks like is working day in and day out on normal problems and taking questions from those that you lead. Aside from the fact that your knowledge is important to help the company deliver work on time and at a sufficient level of quality, your job is also to continuously empower and challenge those that you lead to solve problems and simultaneously gain experience for themselves. That's a long-winded way of saying you can't solve their problems for them. If you are taking over their computer and fixing all of their problems for them, you aren't giving them the opportunity to experience those problems for themselves, develop those stability muscles, point them in the right direction. Say this is probably where I would start and then here are some of the steps that I would probably take and then allow them to walk down those pathways themselves and really the next time that you should step in is when they're at a complete standstill. This is the kind of leadership that allows them to see the pathway in front of them, but they still have to be the one to take the steps down that pathway. So that's number one, help them but don't carry them. Number two, encourage a culture that reflects collective values and respects individual values. Let me say that again, encourage a culture that reflects, in other words, that practices collective values. It shows that you have collective values and it respects individual values. A company that doesn't have values and really any group of people that don't have collective values, they end up not having a good aim. And really that translates to not having much direction and those that don't have direction will eventually they fall apart. So this is an incredibly important step and it sounds soft but it is practically important every single day. When it comes down to it, not everyone is going to value the same things in their careers. So when we come together, we can't just simply adopt everybody's values as the company's values. Those are two separate things. While everyone can appreciate being paid enough to cover their expenses and pay their bills, all bets are really off when it comes to incentivizing others to work towards your personal goals. In other words, if you have people in your organization, their goals may not necessarily be your goals and trying to incentivize other people based on your personal goals may be a little bit difficult. Instead, it's important to determine and instill a set of values that everyone holds as a company rather than just a cross section of individual values. This doesn't do away with individual values. Individual values need to be respected in the workplace. This effectively means that your organization has visible, measurable goals that each developer can rally around with the other Developer They work with, and that you are aware of the individual values of those on your team. This informs decision-making collaboration efforts. Ultimately, it increases team morale. The concept here is quite simple. An effective team is a group of individuals collaborating towards common goals. Not a group of individuals that are individually moving towards their personal goals. There's a very important distinction there. That does not mean that those individuals abandon their own goals, but rather that working together, they are working towards their common goals. That's number two. Encourage a culture that reflects collective values and respects individual values. Number three, perhaps the most important thing that I want you to take away from the developer career roadmap. If you can take this one thing away, this is a final piece, and perhaps the most important part of your career, develop a strong sense of care and appreciation for the people you lead. Develop a strong sense of care and appreciation for the people you lead. If you view this step of the developer career roadmap as a way to level up only for your own self, only for your own career, then you're really totally missing the point. You might as well just throw this episode away. A lot of people will skip this step for this specific reason because they actually are not paying attention to the careers of the people and they aren't developing a sense of care and appreciation for those around them. Really walking the developer career roadmap, you're not going to be effective if you have that mindset. This is such a fundamental part of being effective as a developer, being effective as a business person. Can you make money? Can you be successful by the standard of business and not care about other people, perhaps? But it is much more likely that you're going to be successful and it's a personal belief of mine. This is where I'm bringing in a personal value. It's an important personal value of mine that you do propagate this concept of caring for those around you. I will say this beyond the fact that it is a personal value, you're going to have a very difficult time leading people that you don't care about. If you lead them effectively for a short period of time, eventually your lack of care for them will drive them away. It's important to know if you want to be an effective and a sustainable leader, in other words, if you don't want people to be constantly turning over under your leadership, leaving and you having the higher new people to replace them, then you need to develop a strong sense of care and appreciation for the people that you lead. So a caring leader continuously pursues the following virtues. And these are going to be the things that I will leave you with in today's episode. Number one, honesty. Do not be deceitful or ambiguous when you speak to the people that you lead. Really anyone in business, even if it gives you the upper hand in the conversation, always be honest. Number two, empathy. Understand the pains, the desires, the joy. All of these things that the people on your team are experiencing, the anxiety, understand the imposter syndrome, that feeling of not being good enough, develop a sense of empathy for those that you lead. Number three, respect. Respect other people's time, their money, their beliefs, their affiliations, their struggles, their triumphs, their personalities and preferences, their creed, their race. Their orientation. Respect the people that you lead. Do not make jokes about these things. It's in bad taste, first of all, but secondly, it absolutely will drive them away. A good leader respects the individuality of those that they lead, no matter what the situation is, no matter where the conversation is taking place, at all times, keep this at the top, the absolute top of your mind. Respect those around you, especially those that you lead. Number four, humility. Being able to admit when you are wrong. For example, when you haven't been honest or when you haven't practiced empathy or when you haven't respected those around you, being able to admit when you're wrong and don't be quick to judge others when you suspect that they have done wrong. Number five, fortitude. This is quite different from the first four, fortitude. This and display bravery in the face of otherwise daunting circumstances, fortitude. This is one of those things that is not simple and it's easy to say it, but significantly harder to practice it. Sometimes things are uncertain. Sometimes things are a little bit scary in the business world. Practicing fortitude means continuing to do the right thing in the face of that fear, continuing to have faith in the process, faith in hard work that you've developed over time, faith in your own abilities. There are times when your abilities will be questioned. There are times when business will be difficult, but good leaders practice fortitude. Number six, selfless sacrifice. To lead others well, you might have to give up a few things of your own. This is where it gets a little bit difficult and why some people don't really want to go this far in their career. It's not an easy road to be at this level of your career and the reality is sometimes it takes self sacrifice. It takes a little bit from you. Now, am I saying that you need to sacrifice your health? Absolutely not. Am I saying that you need to sacrifice your relationships, especially those that are close to you? Absolutely not. But you may sacrifice an extra hour to go and meet one-on-one with someone that you need to go have a conversation with them. To get to know the people that they care about, their family, to understand the things that they're going through, to understand their pain, or to celebrate them on the flip side. It's not always doom and gloom sometimes. You are giving up the time that you otherwise would be doing something that you want to do, sitting at home watching TV. Instead, you may go and celebrate one of those people that you lead. So, this is where selfless sacrifice comes into play. And lastly, number seven, responsibility. This is not something to take lightly. Being a developer at this level. When you're leading others, when you're developing other people to replace you, to become the great developer that you want to become. When you're helping other people on that path, it's not something to take lightly. But rather, it is one of the most important phases of your job, one of the most important things that you will do with your career. Your influence can have a major effect on the careers and the work of those that you lead. And every word you speak and every step you take is visible to those people. It means something. So, take responsibility for your actions. Take responsibility for your words. And ultimately, take your job seriously. The opposite of taking responsibility is failing to apathy. Do not become an apathetic developer. Apathy is another one of those poisons that we've talked about on the show before. I don't know if we've done an episode on apathy, but we've certainly done one on cynicism. Do not become an apathetic or a cynical developer. Instead, take responsibility. Take your job seriously. Those people around you, the people that you can care for, that you can show empathy for, that you can show respect for and empower by not caring them, but instead challenging them and helping them learn. This is giving people the opportunity to experience what is so great about this industry. And you can start doing this today. We talk about the developer career roadmap. In terms of its linear nature, really, you have to go through all of these things to get to the point where you are replacing yourself. But you don't turn on the switch of caring about people only later on in your career. You start caring about people today. Start being honest with your coworkers today. Start developing empathy and respect and humility and fortitude today. Start developing selfless sacrifice as a value today. The person who can care the most about your career is you. I can't care enough about your career to take responsibility for it. Only you can do that. Thank you so much for listening to today's episode of Developer Tea. Perhaps one of the most heartfelt episodes for me. I'm so excited that I have such a great group of people who listen to this show. Thank you so much for sticking with it. For those of you who have poured out your stories to me and emails at developert.gmail.com. If you want to share another story with me, I would love to hear them. But I read each and every one of those emails. It's such an important thing to me. Thank you so much for listening to this show. It's one of the most meaningful things that I can ever imagine doing. Thank you so much for being a part of this. Thank you again to today's sponsor for making this show possible Dolby. Again, your applications, they can't rely on old school audio anymore. Go and get a better codec Dolby audio. We'll bring your audio experience to the same quality level that you are already building the rest of your application for. Go and check it out. Spec.fm slash Dolby. Thank you so much for listening to today's episode. Once again, this is the end of the developer career roadmap series. We will obviously be referring back to the developer career roadmap multiple times in the future. This is really the fundamental step-by-step process that I believe is going to help thousands of Developer Take the right steps in their career. Thank you so much for listening. Until next time, enjoy your tea.