#54 - Jumping Into Tech Leadership Roles - Alvaro Moya

 

 

“Going from development to management is not a promotion. It’s an entirely new career. And there is normally a lack of proper guidance for that."

Alvaro Moya is the founder of Lidr, a community that prepares and transforms the tech leaders and CTOs of tomorrow through immersive, experiential, and community-driven programs. In this episode, Alvaro shared the story of Lidr and why he started it, learning from his own journey working in multiple startups and scaleups. Alvaro then shared his view on technical leadership, the challenges surrounding it, and why it is important for companies to prioritize on improving leadership. Alvaro also touched on how tech leaders can create and nurture high-performing teams, with an emphasis on cultivating ownership, as well as giving some advice on how we should plan and choose our career track and progression, including tips and practices on how we can become better tech leaders through practising leadership informally.  

Listen out for:

  • Career Journey - [00:05:29]
  • Lidr.co - [00:10:21]
  • Technical Leadership Challenges - [00:12:22]
  • Upskilling Leadership - [00:15:23]
  • Prioritizing Improving Leadership - [00:18:56]
  • Career Progression Guide - [00:24:31]
  • Nurturing High-Performance Team - [00:27:17]
  • Cultivating Ownership - [00:31:36]
  • Becoming a Better Tech Leader - [00:36:21]
  • Advise for Choosing Career Track - [00:41:56]
  • 3 Tech Lead Wisdom - [00:45:04]

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Alvaro Moya’s Bio
Alvaro Moya is the founder of Lidr, a community that prepares and transforms the tech leaders and CTOs of tomorrow through immersive, experiential, and community-driven programs. He is an experienced CTO and tech consultant, passionate about tech startups, a serial founder, investor & advisor.

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Quotes

Career Journey

  • I usually call it [my entire career journey] from zero to unicorn. It was my goal. I wanted to be in all the different stages. So I know how it looks like for every single stage: Which are the handicaps? Which are the challenges for the company? Which are the challenges for the tech team? In order to keep growing and keep being more successful.

  • Given that every single decision I have made in nearly eight years have been the first time I was facing that challenge, that decision, and I didn’t have the support or the knowledge to know what to decide, I would say that the thing that I have learned the most is to be brave, just to take the risk. I think that is what definitely defines my career because everything was a decision that I have never made before. Most of the times with not enough support.

  • When you don’t have enough background or enough expertise, you just rely on your guts, to rely on how much information you can consume in a short period of time to be a bit safer in taking the decision, and you feel a bit more confident, even if it’s a fake feeling.

  • Taking risks, making decisions that are inherently involved in taking risks, and learning as fast and as much as possible was for me the way to really save this path.

  • Most of the times was internet, but as soon as I was able to understand how important it is to build your network and to rely on mentors or advisors, I was relying on them heavily. And building a network where I had this kind of support that I feel safe.

Lidr.co

  • Give first as the principles or the mantras to build something meaningful in tech.

  • What I discovered is that for leadership, there was not such a thing like Stack Overflow where all the content was organized, categorized, curated, so you can find the right answer to the right question. This is why we started Lidr.co as an ecosystem for these kinds of roles.

  • So putting this person in the center and surrounding this person with all the kinds of services or resources. Leaders, aspiring Tech Leaders, or even seasoned Tech Leaders can meet in their journey to make their work standing out to make the best out of it, and to really feel safer than I felt taking decisions blindly.

Technical Leadership Challenges

  • One of them is the lack of proper guidance I have mentioned, which is from tech, we are not trained in some of the things that they expect for us in these leadership roles.

  • Going from development to management is not a promotion because it’s an entirely new career. When your schedule is totally different day by day, hour by hour to what you could expect from a developer. It’s not a developer promotion anymore. It’s a different career.

  • Internally, because in these startups, scaleups, maybe at that point, there is still (no) HR or not a standard learning and development processes.

  • And in the case of external, I have already mentioned that (it) is a lack of reference, lack of standardization, and lack of a community that could really collect all these topics and standardize their roles, the functional responsibilities, and what is expected from this kind of professional. (Not) as well as you have it for Scrum Master that coaches product managers that have created a hype around that position. They have really defined and standardized through associations as well.

  • This is not happening for leadership in tech. And this is one of the problems.

  • And the other is, in this stage, startup and scaleup are always high growth. Both for managers and for engineers, you have better things to do. There is always a priority to grow the product to reach new markets, to put new features to compete with the big players, and to go out of the MVP stage, to have a fully fledged product, and for that, you need to grow the team. These problems are big enough to really justify that all your team from both engineers and managers are in coding, in really working and delivery.

  • So they have no room for proper training. They have no room for the leader, for the CTO to be the mentor of the team. And at some point, they struggled with that or they didn’t ask in advance before the big wave of growth was arriving. And by the time they really need to deliver, they have not prepared the team to grow. They have not prepared the right skills and the right people that are maybe the right ones to grow into management positions. Or they have not prepared for the hiring process in advance.

Upskilling Leadership

  • In order to upskill, I think the first thing is to be clear about what is expected from them. So having a clear career path.

  • Once you have these already assumed and internalized by the whole team so they understand how it’s going to be the progress and what is expected from them, you can prepare this learning and development initiatives according to the skills that they need to foster for the different roles.

  • In order to prioritize those initiatives, I think getting appropriate budget (or) looking for partnerships. How much you are going to prioritize them growing in the company through the amount of money that you will dedicate to them? So, that’s for me important.

  • The other part is call it proper mentoring. So, for me, the most important part is that they have proper mentoring and personal guidance in the company.

    • Taking it as when you are onboarding a new person into your company, you are taking care of them. You are giving them a learning core, assigning the things little by little, presenting different people so they are getting used to the departments, the networks.

    • Taking them by the hand, and then exposing them to the challenges by making them feel safe that you are there. And then slowly removing yourself from the challenge, from the equation. Helping them as well clarify the long-term personal goals. So they (become) clear about what they want to do in life, if they really want to lead, knowing what is there for the next stage, knowing clearly what’s there with this career path.

    • This will expose them to the real role, and they can decide with all the cards in their hand if they want to continue on that path. So this will build the safety for them, this confidence that this is the path. And then they will really pursue them with all their strengths, all their energy, but they need to feel safe and confident.

    • And if they see that you are taking care of them in this transition. You understand this transition as really risky, and that you need to deliver time and they see you embody your time to help them succeed. That is called guided discovery of this leadership role. It’s really what for me, empowers them to do their best job and be confident and really sticking to the role and not looking back to development again.

Prioritizing Improving Leadership

  • When you are clear about that, this is the first thing.

  • You have been clear about that with the company, then you can also, by that time, before, later, no matter, you can build the skills using what I call informal leadership, which is being exposed to those challenges in other situations. So, developing those skills little by little, which means that you can develop yourself as a leader.

  • You can have plenty of opportunities out there to demonstrate that leadership, both in the company and also out of the company.

    • You can run a meetup. So you can be exposed not only to the learnings of running that meetup, but also to the learnings of the topic, organizing and looking for ambassadors, looking for coordinators.

    • Contributing with open source. Creating your own open source repository. Mentoring others. That’s essential. You have plenty of platforms.

    • At the end, you are going to learn how to mentor by mentoring directly others. So by the time you need to mentor the junior people in your team, you are already prepared.

  • Learning by doing for me is the key way to learn, is the most permanent and the most impactful.

  • All these things can happen in informal roles. And you can do these informal roles out of the company. But also into the company, you can be a mentor for other people in other departments. You can be a mentor for your team. You can be exposed to other initiatives outside of your department.

  • This is exposing yourself. This is challenging you. And this is the way you can enable better communication, building empathy with junior people, with people from other departments. You will be leading by example. Exposing yourself in the team and doing things out of your job will set a clear and sound example for all your team members. You will be developing your business vision and starting with this kind of side hustles. And then at the end, with mentoring and having more time organizing and planning, you will be delivering those skills that, to me, are most important to build. I think nearly all of them can be built out of your job.

  • Now you are standing out from the other competitions you will have in the company. Or even, you can make your manager thinking twice about hiring someone from the outside to manage.

Career Progression Guide

  • The first thing for me is being aware that by the time the company needs to grow, you need to be already there. So acting in advance.

  • That’s why, for me, mentoring or being exposed to all the startups in the next stage is important. That’s why I was doing this whole path from zero to unicorn to understand what’s there.

  • Knowing for sure that the company once is growing, you will need another layer that is middle management. These tech leads or engineering managers between the CTO and the developers is a key thing.

  • If you prepare it in advance, it’s okay. But in the end, it will be not as useful as doing it just-in-time.

  • It’s important to get the resources, so by the time it’s needed, with this kind of three, six months in advance, when you know that you are already raising the funds, and you, as a CTO is exposed to this long-term strategy for the company. You know where the deadlines (are).

  • All the initiatives I have mentioned about the company involve the people in training: The company fostering this informal leadership, fostering this kind of cross functional initiatives, fostering free time. So they can really deliver this as a hobby as well. It’s key. And if this is happening in advance, by the time the company needs it, your people (are) more prepared and then the transition will be much more natural.

Nurturing High-Performance Team

  • A high-performing team is by definition a team that owns everything that is related to them. So you need a lot of autonomy, you need them to be passionate about what they are doing as a company, understanding the long-term vision of the company, so they buy that vision, and it’s the only way you can really enable this ownership for them.

  • Feeling themselves as founders is the best way to force this autonomy. But they need to act with passion. They cannot feel that they are just being paid every single day for working on a project or for delivering a new feature in the market or whatever. They need to feel that the company is themselves. That’s why for me the message from the C level about the long-term is essential in high-performing teams.

  • It’s all about the ownership and autonomy. They need to prepare a ground where they can make decisions in a safe environment. They need to feel that they are not going to be punished for making the wrong decision. They are really encouraged to make that decision. Whether it is a good decision or it’s a bad decision where you can really get some learnings, expose it to the rest of the teams. So you, as a team, collect this knowledge and improve the decision-making of the whole company.

  • And then communication and processes. In order to have this kind of mini startup in the company, you need to (have) clear processes. And the communication has to be really in the center of everything. Even if you are over-communicating, you are employing more time to communicate than you should.

  • And then the kind of the topology the organization needs to allow for that. So you need to put the right people in those teams, normally (they are) cross-functional teams.

    • The communications between the different small organizations are important between these teams, across teams in formal guilds or whatever.

    • And then having this ownership and autonomy to really be problem solver. So they have a problem, they solve the problem. And only if there is something that the Engineering Manager or the CTO has to be involved in order to facilitate the solution; only then is this team gathering for help outside.

  • And on the technical side of things, it’s about automating as much as possible. So every single minute someone is putting into the code, it’s for a meaningful reason. It’s about business logic, is about adding value, and it’s not about doing repetitive things.

Cultivating Ownership

  • The first barrier that I put is on the interview level. For me, cultural fit is the most important part, and high-performing mindset. So, being a high-performer themselves, understanding what is for them in a high-performing team. Which are the benefits? And they are willing to be in a high-performing team with top talent. It’s essential for me.

  • So doing the right questions and really focusing on the personal side, putting the person in the center and being curious about other experiences where they can. So, how they give the extra mile every single time for every single company? How they really fight for the company as if it was yours?

  • When they really demonstrate that, when they really demonstrate the extra mile also with these side hustles that they have really passion for learning, they are taking feedback seriously, how they can quickly evolve a solution or change the mindset according to feedback from the relevant people and not being really, really stubborn, is, for me, really important in this stage.

  • Later on, the C level has the greatest responsibility to inspire the people, and to define the culture with every single action. They are leading by example.

    • C level is enforced to lead by example, are the first ones that need to live those values of high-performing teams or autonomy, or giving the ownership. And given that the people are expecting from them to make the rules, you need to both demonstrate every single day that the rules are made by every single team.

    • If they are making a mistake, they are openly talking about that mistake publicly in the company. They are talking more about the consequences and what they are going to do to solve it, and moving fast, and then having this kind of postmortem to get the learnings, rather than just complaining about the problems or whatever. This will give others their safe space as well for making those decisions.

  • And the other part of that is, why don’t you put this ownership as part of the goals in the performance review? Because we are very used to put clear goals of deliveries, of business goals, but what about living the cultural values, living the values of the company every single day, and they need to bring real examples to the performance review session, so you can demonstrate how you are living those values. And then, having part of the bonus, parts of the perks related to these values as well as you have for the formal business goals.

  • If that person is doing it on behalf of the CEO, this is how the culture really permeates into the other layers of the company.

  • And that’s why for me, having it into this formal operations, the performance review, is important. Being it like breath every day in the culture is important. Filtering the right people from the very beginning is important. And this is for me, the three keys, I would say for ensuring that the culture of ownership, the culture of high-performance is long-lasting.

Becoming a Better Tech Leader

  • I have this framework that we call tech leadership development framework, which is this path from self leadership - so self-awareness, I want to do it, I’m preparing my own plan - to then informal leadership, which is real actions you can do, even when you don’t hold the formal role. And then this will give you the access to formal leadership through application, through moving out to another company that is giving you the opportunity. This framework for me, with these three steps, has different things that you need to do.

  • The most important, or the first one is once you know that this is for you, it’s about planning properly.

    • Which is your personal SWOT? I mean, which are the skills that you will still need?

    • (What are) the milestones I assigned to myself? So in the short and mid term, long term, I am reaching that point. So creating your own plan as if it was a company. You have goals to reach, and you need to be really strict with them. Can not be unmissable for you if this is your dream. That is a much bigger dream than your company’s is your own life. This is the best project you can be working on.

    • For me, planning properly and really executing with clear and concrete milestones for that is the first step.

  • Then the actions on the how to do it.

    • From the very beginning, build your network, get a mentor, or a couple of mentors. It’s something that everyone has to do. Your personal brand is everything you have. It’s going to make you stand out. It’s not only for marketers. It’s not only for founders. Everyone has a brand.

    • Building your brand, building your network, publishing, being consistent with that.

    • Being consistent, assign the time. Because this is your future. You are investing that time in your future. Not all the time is money. You can also be learning, reading, and acquiring knowledge as fast as possible. So you need to dedicate as well some time to make sure that every single week you are learning something new.

  • And my final advice, I already said, is learning by doing.

    • Practice. Don’t just get the knowledge in your mind, because this is like karate or many other disciplines (like) Taekwondo, you can not learn just (by) reading books. You need to practice. You need to be exposed. You need to fail a lot. You need to really suffer these learning core. You need to fail. The point where you don’t know what you don’t know. You need to feel the challenges. You need to face moments. Where do I struggling? Because this is the best way to learn.

    • It’s about being brave, being exposed, because any kind of fear you have is in your head. At the end, it’s just internal views. And when you are there, you really feel 99% of the time, they were just ghosts, right? Nothing happens. All the people really appreciate your time, your effort to share with others.

  • At the end, for me, it’s about really exposing yourself. Be willing to look for the opportunities. And then when you have the opportunity in front of you, say yes. Say yes, face the unknown. Because at the end, no one is dying for these kinds of things. Even if you need to say no later, it’s much better than not even facing the challenge at the beginning.

Advise for Choosing Career Track

  • For me, network and the mentor will have the answers. Communicating it with other people. Not thinking that you need to find out, that it’s your duty, it’s your responsibility to find out without help.

  • Ask for help. If you’re struggling, and you still don’t know, ask for help. Try to discover what is there for you in the next step, in both career paths. In the end, you need to make a decision. The good thing is that you can always go back. Everything that you do is going to be a step forward. You don’t need to regret because everything you do in that path, even if it’s wrong, you will learn a lot of skills. You will build empathy with people that is in that role.

  • For me, it’s all about the fears, it’s the impostor syndrome we always have in tech. We always suffer it. And in the end, it’s your imagination, right? That wants to be safe. The worst thing is going to happen to you. What is that? Ask yourself. That’s for me, a clear question.

  • What’s the worst thing (that) can happen? If I go for the individual contributor path for the next six months to try out. I have lost six months of my career. You can always go back or just evolve and then go for that career later.

  • Whatever is the reason, at the end, there is no step back. There is not such a thing like regretting about the steps you are doing because, for every single step, you will have opportunities to learn. Opportunities to grow. People to know. And then with that, you will be in a much better position to take the other career whenever it is the time.

  • It’s all about just going forward, and to run it by the right people to have the good information firsthand.

3 Tech Lead Wisdom

  1. In the end, everything is about people. It’s about putting the people first.

    • You as a leader, your own responsibility and why you can be called a leader is because others that are people - not machines, not software, it’s people - decide to follow you.

    • You need to put that people first and you need to do everything that it takes to make that people succeed. And only when they succeed they will be able, during their journey of succeeding themselves, delivering value for your company, for your team or for yourself as a leader. And then you will be recognized as a leader because you had an impact. But the first thing you were doing is trying to make them succeed.

  2. More impactful companies.

    • We have no planet B and we are reaching our tipping point.

    • For those that has entrepreneurial mindset or for those that are deciding where to work, for me, the most impactful company you can work or the more impactful company, the better. Because you can still do what you love, but you will be warrantying our survival as a species.

  3. Remove the barrier between tech and business.

    • On one side, teaching leadership in tech, and giving this kind of business vision to techies and Tech Leaders is going to help a lot in running companies, successful startups, successful scaleups in terms of communication, empathy and aligned vision.

    • On the other side, we can also remove the barrier in tech for business people. We all need to do an effort to remove the technical jargon, and being able to expose the basics in tech in our companies, so that barrier is finally removed, and then business feels empowered to even play with tech. They can have a nice and productive conversation with tech because they can build the empathy to know what they do.

    • Building this cross communication, business delivering more of the vision, more of the long-term goals in tech, and tech delivering some basics of how and what they do and why they do it. To business, (it) will be just one team.

    • In the end is just one team, just one family with a single aligned goal, or this is the expected way of operating a business. They are working aligned to have a same goal. Removing this barrier for me is critical for the success of more startups and scaleups in the market.

Transcript

[00:02:02] Episode Introduction

[00:02:02] Henry Suryawirawan: Hello everyone. Welcome back here again with another episode of the Tech Lead Journal podcast. Thanks for spending your time with me today, listening to this episode. If you haven’t, please follow Tech Lead Journal on your podcast app and our social media channels on LinkedIn, Twitter, and Instagram. You can also make some contribution and support this podcast by subscribing as a patron at techleadjournal.dev/patron and help me to continue producing great content every week.

For today’s episode, I’m happy to share my conversation with Alvaro Moya. Alvaro is the founder of Lidr.co, a community that prepares and transforms the tech leaders and CTOs of tomorrow, through immersive, experiential, and community driven programs. In this episode, Alvaro shared the story of Lidr, and why he decided to start it, learning a lot from his own journey and struggles working in multiple startups and scale-ups. He then shared his view on technical leadership, some of the major challenges surrounding it, and why it is important for companies to prioritize on improving leadership, especially for startups and scale-ups. Alvaro also touched on how tech leaders can create and nurture high-performing teams, with an emphasis on cultivating ownership, as well as giving some advice on how we should plan and choose our career track and progression, including great tips and practices on how we can become better tech leaders through practicing leadership informally.

I highly enjoyed my conversation with Alvaro, learning about how to grow and up-skill technical leadership, and I hope that you will enjoy this episode as well. Consider helping the show by leaving it a rating or review on your podcast app, and you can also leave some comments on our social media channels. Though it may seem trivial, those reviews and comments are one of the best ways to help me get this podcast to reach more listeners, and hopefully they can also benefit from all the contents in this podcast. Without further ado, so let’s get this episode started.

[00:04:11] Introduction

[00:04:11] Henry Suryawirawan: Hey, welcome everyone to another new episode of the Tech Lead Journal. So today I have with me a guest named Alvaro Moya. He’s from Spain. Let me introduce Alvaro a little bit. Alvaro is the founder of Lidr.co. So it’s spelled Lidr.co. It’s not the typical leader that you would be familiar with. It is actually an ecosystem for seasoned Tech Leaders. So maybe Alvaro later on will be introducing what Lidr is all about. Alvaro is also someone who is very experienced working in startups, in CTO role. He has co-founded his own startups, and at young age as well, at 20 years old, which started as a side project. And then later on, he worked on multiple startups, acting as CTO, in multiple scaleups as well. So today we are going to talk a lot about technical leadership, CTO role, and Tech Leads in particular. So Alvaro, welcome to the show. I’m really looking forward to learning from you about how to actually become a better CTO and technical leader. Welcome to the show.

[00:05:12] Alvaro Moya: Thank you. Thank you very much, Henry, for the warm welcome. For sure, I will be talking about Lidr.co later on because at the end talking about Tech Leadership, and being the company around that. For sure, I will bring examples. I will not be able to avoid it. But yeah. Let’s do it later. I think we’re going to start with a question you prefer.

[00:05:29] Career Journey

[00:05:29] Henry Suryawirawan: So in the beginning, maybe for you to introduce yourself. Telling more about your career, what’s your journey like, and maybe some highlights or turning points in your career for all of us to learn from.

[00:05:38] Alvaro Moya: Very good. So, I have been a leader in tech. I have been CTO, and I recognize here a couple of paths that are most common. So evolving from software developer into senior. Then, at some point, getting the management path. Going from tech or Team Lead to Engineering Manager, and then evolving, and then at some point maybe jumping into a fresh new startup as a CTO. This is normally one of the most common paths for CTO. I followed another one that is not so common, but definitely I met a lot of people following that, which is I start as a developer. You can or cannot lead a team, but at some point you understand that your world is in the startup ecosystem. You have this entrepreneurial mindset, and that you are born to do this kind of things on a much higher impact, with much more responsibilities, and being on the decision-making part of the company. So, yes. Create your own seat. Create your own role. Starting or co-founding a startup as a CTO, and then by doing. Even when you have no clue, getting help from accelerators or mentors. You are doing the path, and even if you are failing, you are trying again and again. And so that was my path.

After four or five years coding in different environments, research, big corporates, small companies, I had the opportunity to launch a new startup. We won a contest, a startup contest, and with the money, we were able to start the operations and prepared the facility. So I didn’t have any doubt. I started in this ecosystem world and I have never moved from there. I never looked back and I am really passionate about that. Since that point back in 2013. Since then, co-founding different startups and acting always as a CTO, VP of Engineering. Until the last stages really being into big companies like wefox right now, last year, and then helping also Revolut during this year as a consulting manager. So it’s like my entire career as a CTO in the startup ecosystem. I usually call it from zero to unicorn. It was my goal. I wanted to be in all the different stages. So I know how it looks like for every single stage. Which are the handicaps? Which are the challenges for the company? Which are the challenges for the tech team? In order to keep growing and keep being more successful. So at some point when I created my own thing, I had some savings on one side and also the knowledge to know which big things to avoid in order to make it as successful as becoming a unicorn at some point. So, that’s my journey in a nutshell.

[00:07:58] Henry Suryawirawan: So thanks for sharing your story. It’s very interesting. Like you started, of course, as a developer. Most of the CTO, I would assume that they will start in some technical roles in one way or the other. And then you move into startup, founding your own startups, and then moving on to different startups, becoming CTO, VP of Engineering, and all that. You seem to have gone through multiple stages in the startup and technical leadership. Maybe if there’s a few things that you can share, what are the most learnings that you saw from your career journey so far? Things that probably is a highlight for you throughout this number of years.

[00:08:31] Alvaro Moya: Given that every single decision I have made in nearly eight years. Have been the first time I was facing that challenge, I was facing that decision and I didn’t have the support or the knowledge to know what to decide. I would say that the thing that I have learned the most is to be brave, just to take the risk. I think that is what definitely defines my career because everything was a decision that I have never made before. Most of the times with not enough support. Most of them were not like going to destroy the company in the short term, but at the end, it’s a decision that will be in the company for the next eight years. Some of them are really defining if the company is going to survive or not. From which kind of people you hire after as the first developer or architect in the company to deciding for a certain technology or tech stack.

You are saving the company, and when you don’t have enough background or enough expertise, you just rely on your guts to rely on. How much information you can consume in a short period of time to be a bit safer in taking the decision, and you feel a bit more confident, even if it’s a fake feeling. But for me, taking risks, making decisions that is inherently involved in taking risks, and learning as fast and as much as possible was for me, the way to really save this path. Most of the times was internet, but as soon as I was able to understand how important it is to build your network and to rely on mentors or advisors, I was relying on them heavily. And building a network where I had this kind of support that I feel safe. That I am sharing the experience and the challenge with others, so they can give me their point of view, their advice. It’s not only relying on Stack Overflow or other websites to find answers from the other parts of the world. It’s someone you trust. Someone that is really into your business, knows about your challenges, knows about your context. So that information is a bit more useful than just going for some advice in Quora or Stack Overflow.

[00:10:21] Lidr.co

[00:10:21] Henry Suryawirawan: So when you said about Stack Overflow, right? Most of the technical leadership wisdom, things that are abstract and vague, mostly are not on Stack Overflow. Could it be also the reason why you started Lidr.co? Maybe you can share a little bit. What does Lidr.co do? And could it be also inspired by your journey so far?

[00:10:39] Alvaro Moya: It’s exactly like that. I mean, I have been raised with these open source principles and these giving back to the community. Give first as the principles or the mantras to build something meaningful in tech. What I discovered is that for leadership, there were not such a thing like Stack Overflow where all the content was organized, categorized, curated, so you can find the right answer to the right question. This is why we started Lidr.co as an ecosystem for these kinds of roles. So putting this person in the center and surrounding this person with all the kinds of services or resources. Leaders, aspiring Tech Leaders, or even seasoned Tech Leaders can meet in their journey to make their work standing out to make the best out of it. And to really feel safer than I felt taking decisions blindly.

So, we have this part of resources, collecting resources, creating our own resources, more like formal trainings for aspiring leaders. We have one of the few Tech Leadership job boards here in Europe. We offer CTO service for startups where we are nurturing our consultants with all the people from the community. So we offer the job there and we train them to work the way the startups are expecting for these kind of part-time CTO, full-time CTOs. So at the end, it’s like putting these people in the center, which is leaders in tech, from Tech Leads to CTOs, putting them in the center and creating a suite of services around. Not only for them but also for the people that are looking for them. So creating this kind of symbiosis or synergies between the startups, scaleups, and this kind of roles that are really high in demand and for a reason. And it’s just because the startup ecosystem is booming, the digital revolution now after COVID is even increasing at another pace. That’s why there is a huge gap between offer and demand for these roles. And that’s what I am trying to fix, one step at a time.

[00:12:22] Technical Leadership Challenges

[00:12:22] Henry Suryawirawan: So as you mentioned that, I myself work in a startup now. There are a lot of challenges in startups, right? Especially regarding technical leadership. I mean, tech stack is probably one thing, but given that so many resources available, why do you think tech teams face so many challenges when it comes to technical leadership? Or even when they scaleup, as they hire more and more people, what do you think are some of these challenges?

[00:12:44] Alvaro Moya: One of them is the lack of proper guidance I have mentioned, which is from tech, we are not trained in some of the things that they expect for us in these leadership roles. At the end, going from development to management is not a promotion. If someone is thinking about that as a promotion, they need to forget about that because it’s an entirely new career. When your schedule is totally different day by day, hour by hour to what you could expect from a developer, it’s not a developer promotion anymore. It’s a different career. So there is normally a lack of proper guidance for that.

Internally, because in these startups, scaleups, maybe at that point, there is not still HR or not a standard learning and development processes. And in the case of external, I have already mentioned that is a lack of reference. It’s a lack of standardization, and a lack of a community that could really collect all these topics and standardized their roles, which are the functional responsibilities, and what is expected from this kind of professional. As well as you have it for Scrum Master that coaches product managers that have created a hype around that position. They have really defined and standardized through associations as well. They have prepared proper training, a lot of training in different countries, certifications, and it’s like more or less clear what a product manager should be doing. What the product leaders should be doing. What a CTO should be doing. They have the tools. They have the mentors. They have the network. They have the community. This is, I think, not happening for leadership in tech. And this is for me, one of the problems.

And the other is, in this stage, startup and scaleup is always high growth. Both for managers and for engineers, you have better things to do. There is always a priority to grow the product to reach new markets, to put new features to compete with the big players, and to go out of the MVP stage, to have a fully fledged product, and for that, you need to grow the team. These problems are big enough to really justify that all your team from both engineers and managers are in coding, in really working and delivery. So they have no room for proper training. They have no room for the leader, for the CTO to be the mentor of the team. And at some point, they struggled with that or they don’t ask in advance before the big wave of growth is arriving. And by the time they really need to deliver, they have not prepared the team to grow. They have not prepared the right skills and the right people that are maybe the right ones to grow into management positions. Or they have not prepared the hiring process in advance. So the new managers are already here by that time and the learning core already done. They haven’t understood the culture of the company, the dynamics. How the company is evolving? And which are the major problems that the tech team has to fix in order to ensure this successful and organic stable growth. So I would say these kind of problems.

[00:15:23] Upskilling Leadership

[00:15:23] Henry Suryawirawan: So when you say about scaling up organically, right? I mean, most of the startups of course started with a small team, very close relationship, whereby they all help each other. Even like for technical leaders, there’s not much leadership per se. It’s more about doing, solving problems, building up your products. And when you scale, that’s when actually you realize that, oh, actually I need all this management leadership skillset within the company. So there are two aspects, of course. The first thing is about hiring an external people to come in. But how about the internal? The people who have been there since the beginning in the startups. Could you maybe give some tips, how should these people who have been around in the company, building up from zero up to a certain scale, what should they do to actually upskill their management or leadership?

[00:16:08] Alvaro Moya: So in order to upskill, I think the first thing is to be clear about what is expected from them. So having clear career path. Even if you are getting it borrowed from another. For example, these career paths that you can find in Levels.fyi . The one that also probably is James Stanier and the engineering manager as well. So you can find reference there so you can get your own career path easily. But once you have these already assumed and internalized by the whole team so they understand how it’s going to be the progress and what is expected from them, you can prepare this learning and development initiatives according to the skills that they need to foster for the different roles. And here in order to prioritize those initiatives, I think getting appropriate budget, if you realize that your CTO or your HR team, if any cannot deal with training them properly or cannot deliver all the time needed for this mentorship, is looking for partnerships. Here is what Lidr can help as well. But you need to prepare a proper budget for that. You need to be creative about that. How much you are going to prioritize them growing in the company through the amount of money that you will dedicate to them? So, that’s for me important.

But the other part is call it proper mentoring. So, for me, the most important part is that they have proper mentoring and personal guidance into the company. Directly from taking this onboarding in a new position. Remember, it’s not a promotion. It’s a new role. So taking it as when you are onboarding a new person into your company, you are taking care of them. You are giving them a learning core. Assigning the things little by little. Presenting different people so they are getting used to the departments, the networks. So you need to do the same for someone that is going to be a new manager. So assignments little by little. Taking them by the hand, and then exposing them to the challenges by making them feel safe that you are there. And then slowly removing yourself from the challenge, from the equation. Helping them as well clarify the long-term personal goals. So they being clear about what they want to do in life, if they really want to lead. Knowing what is there for the next stage. Knowing clearly what’s there with this career path.

So when a bit of your day as a CTO, or explaining, or putting them in contact with other Tech Lead or engineering managers. Maybe from the company or the department, maybe from another companies, if you know them. This will expose them to the real role, and they can decide with all the cards in their hand if they want to continue in that path. So this will build the safety for them, this confidence that this is the path. And then they will really pursue then with all their strengths, all their energy, but they need to feel safe and confident, right? And if they see that you are taking care of them in this transition. You understand this transition as really risky, and that you need to deliver time and they see you embody your time to help them succeed. That is called guided discovery of this leadership role. It’s really what for me, empowers them to do their best job and being confident and really sticking to the role and not looking back to development again.

[00:18:56] Prioritizing Improving Leadership

[00:18:56] Henry Suryawirawan: A lot of times, I’m sure you have plenty of experience yourself, right? So when you work in a startup, sometimes this kind of things tend to be put as a backlog. For example, you will find incidents. You will find issues. You will find new things that somehow get prioritized by either the business leaders or the stakeholders. So how would you actually consciously make decisions that actually you should either budget it or prioritize time to actually improve yourself in this leadership and management.

[00:19:23] Alvaro Moya: So when you are clear about that, this is the first thing, like living yourself, living your life. Hey, I want to go that direction. Here is the place. My manager is going to support it. You have been clear about that with the company, then you can also, by that time, before, later, no matter, you can build the skills using what I call informal leadership, which is being exposed to those challenges in other situations. So developing those skills little by little, which means that you can develop yourself as a leader, not only in your eight hours. Or in this onboarding process, in the two hours that your manager is going to assign you for this kind of task, then three, then four. You can have plenty of opportunities out there to demonstrate that leadership, both in the company and also out of the company.

So for me, for this informal leadership is like, for example, what you are doing that is amazing, like running a podcast, is going to make you think about the business. So a podcast is a business. It has marketing, operations. It has the part of tech of deciding which tools. It has the branding part. It has PR. It has the communication with your customers, but also the communication with your provider, which is the speakers like me. So all of that is going to expose you to many other different people, different cultures. This is going to allow you to think in business. So improving your business vision and strategic thinking about dealing with the challenges. Thinking in advance, where I want this Tech Lead Journal to be one year from now. What I need to do in order to reach there? I need to do this contacts. I need to raise some money. I need to look for a couple of sponsors. This kind of thinking is going to deliver this vision. Vision, that for me, is essential for this leader.

So having the big picture. Not on the job. You can run a meetup. So you can be exposed not only to the learnings of running that meetup but also to the learnings of the topic. Organizing and looking for ambassadors, looking for coordinators. So coordinating a team of people with different functions. This is going to allow you to lead a team, even when you are not paid for it. Even when that people is just volunteers. But it’s about coordinating with others, especially even in remote. So there are plenty of things that you can do out there. Contributing with open source. Creating your own open source repository. Mentoring others. That’s essential. You have plenty of platforms. Lidr is one of them, but you have MentorCruise. You have Plato. You have many platforms where you can train yourself to be a mentor. Maybe it’s for free, maybe it’s paid. But at the end, what you are trying with that is learning. So learning by doing for me is the key way to learn, is the most permanent and the most impactful.

You can do it on all of these platforms. Have best practices. You can get exposed to how to be a mentor. You can also read books that they recommend. But at the end, you are going to learn how to mentor by mentoring directly others. So by the time you need to mentor the junior people in your team, you are already prepared. You know which kind of questions to do. You know how to make them be clear about their long-term goals, and then you can align their goals with the company goals. So all these things can happen in informal roles. And you can do these informal roles out of the company, as I said. But also into the company, you can be a mentor for other people in other departments. You can be a mentor for your team. You can be exposed to other initiatives out of your department. Kind of cross functional initiatives or improving the culture or implementing a new tool in the Slack to understand the vibes in the remote environment. And you can be there. You can just need to raise your hand, volunteer, and you will be involved in multi-disciplinary teams. So being exposed to people from HR, from marketing. So needed to communicate with less techie jargon.

This is exposing yourself. This is challenging you. And this is the way you can enable better communication, building empathy with junior people, with people from other departments. You will be leading by example. Exposing yourself in the team and doing things out of your job will set a clear and sound example for all your team members. You will be developing your business vision and starting with this kind of side hustles. And then at the end, with mentoring and having more time organization and planning, you will be delivering those skills that, to me, are most important to build. I think nearly all of them can be built out of your job. So by that time, you go to your manager to say, “Hey, I am doing all of that to demonstrate yourself that I can be a great leader. So I have taken the initiative. You don’t need to teach me as much. I think I am ready now to lead this kind of teams into the company. So, I would love to be exposed to the opportunities that are happening in the future. Now you are standing out of the other competitions you will have in the company, maybe fighting for this role. Or even, you can make your manager thinking twice about hiring someone from the outside to manage, or maybe hiring a developer to substitute you, to replace you, and then promoting yourself into this Tech Lead role.

[00:24:03] Henry Suryawirawan: So as you say, learning by doing. I really liked that because most of the times when I mentored people as well, I told them that actually leadership is not something that is an official role. Everyone can do leadership. It’s just a matter of putting your hands up, and just do the things that you enjoy doing. And also show some kind of initiatives, and the most important part, executing it through until the end. Because if you are doing something like this, but then fails midway, I think that’s not a good leadership as well. So thanks for sharing that.

[00:24:31] Career Progression Guide

[00:24:31] Henry Suryawirawan: Another thing that you mentioned about the proper guidance is actually career path, right? Most of the startups I’m sure, when they started, they don’t have this clear guidance of, okay, you’re a junior developer becoming mid-level senior, maybe an architect and all that. And you mentioned a few resources, like Levels.FYI and James Stanier book. So what do you think startups should do in terms of career guide? Is it just a matter of building a document guidelines for them to follow? Or is there something more around that?

[00:25:01] Alvaro Moya: The first thing for me is being aware that by the time the company needs to grow, you need to be already there. So acting in advance. Preview in the future. That’s important, and that’s why, for me, mentoring or being exposed to all the startups in the next stage is important. That’s why I was doing this whole path from zero to unicorn to understand what’s there. So, knowing for sure that the company once is growing, you will need another layer that is middle management. These Tech Leads or engineering managers between the CTO and the developers is a key thing. Being aware of that, and then preparing the ground for that. If you prepare it in advance, it’s okay. But at the end, it will be not as useful as doing it just-in-time.

So that’s why for me, it’s important to get the resources, so by the time it’s needed, with this kind of three, six months in advance, when you know that you are already raising the funds, and you, as a CTO are exposed to this long-term strategy for the company. You know where are the deadlines. Which is the timeline, right? So you kind of start working on that, and being clear in the C Level. When do you need to start hiring, and why it’s important to do it in advance? When do you need to start growing some of them and delivering part of the development time to being exposed to leadership, and why? This is for me the important part. So, if you have the resources, now is the time, okay. We have four. It’s the time to grow aggressively. We will close the round in three to six months.

What do you need to do as a CTO? Okay. I know that is now three to six months. I can go back to the resources, prepare my own career path, adapting those resources to my own processes, exposing it to the whole team, seeing with the performance reviews and their spirit and the attitudes of everyone. If you can get some of them into leading, and some of the times, the first developers are also willing to take more responsibility because they have created the company and they also have kind of a more senior profile normally in the startup. And then they can be ready to lead. And if you still need some people, you start the hiring process at that point. So they are ready by the time that the company is going to move forward. And this is, for me, essential. So all the initiatives I have mentioned about the company, involving the people in training. The company fostering this informal leadership, fostering this kind of cross functional initiatives, fostering free time. So they can really deliver this as a hobby as well. It’s key. And if this is happening in advance, by the time the company needs it, your people is more prepared and then the transition will be much more natural.

[00:27:17] Nurturing High-Performance Team

[00:27:17] Henry Suryawirawan: So speaking about leadership, all leaders matter is actually to build a high-performance team. So when people thrive, they can grow as when they do the work that they’re doing, and also the skillset to upgrade people, upskill them, make them motivated and all that. So what do you think are some skillsets that are most important to build and nurture this kind of a high-performance team?

[00:27:39] Alvaro Moya: So for me, a high-performing team is by definition a team that owns everything that is related to them. So you need a lot of autonomy. You need them to be passionate about what they are doing as a company. Understanding the long-term vision of the company, so they buy that vision, and it’s the only way you can really enable this ownership for them. So feeling themselves as founders is the best way to force this autonomy. But they need to act with passion. They cannot feel that they are just being paid every single day for working in a project or for delivering a new feature in the market or whatever. They need to feel that the company is themselves. That’s why for me the message from the C level about the long-term is essential in high-performing teams.

And it’s all about the ownership and autonomy. So they need to prepare a ground where they can make decisions in a safe environment. They need to feel that they are not going to be punished for making the wrong decision. So they are really encouraged to make that decision, whether it is a good decision or it’s a bad decision where you can really get some learnings, expose it to the rest of the teams. So you as a team, collect this knowledge and better you are improving the decision-making of the whole company. So for me, that autonomy and empowerment is essential for that. And then communication and processes. So in order to have this kind of mini startup into the company, you need to be clear processes. And the communication has to be really in the center of everything. So even if you are over-communicating, you are employing more time to communicate than you should. But this is essential to really remove the silos, and making sure that team can make all the features they need for the next sprint, for example, without needing all their teams. So not having these dependencies, and then these dependencies making them being delayed and not being totally responsible and autonomous for the results. So, that’s for me, really important for high-performing teams.

And then the kind of the topology the organization needs to allow for that. So you need to put the right people in those teams. So normally is this cross-functional teams. But you need to define how you are going to work with something that is not very obvious. Like having back-end and front-end. But what about QA? What about DevOps? Every company said, well, maybe for you, DevOps is more of a facility. So you just need the service to be running, and maybe you don’t have such a demand for new servers, for new microservices, for new infrastructure. So you can have just DevOps covering different teams. And they were like a ticket base, or you are outsourcing the service. The same for QA. You have a lot of manual QA. You have a lot of automated testing. Do you need QA to be into everything? Do you need a Scrum Master to be into each team, or they are already self-organized, and you don’t need this figure of a Scrum Master to facilitate or unblock the road. Because they are already being able to unblock their own challenges as a team communicating with whoever. So that’s for me, the key part that you adapted to your own needs.

But deciding on who is inside, who is outside, and how the teams are going to organize themselves into our whole organization, that is the tech team. This is squad or guild from the Spotify model or is something else. This is really important, and it has to be, I think, standardized, documented in some way. But you know and everyone knows why the communication between the different small organizations are important between these teams, across teams in formal guilds or whatever. And then having this ownership and autonomy to really be problem solver. So they have a problem, they solve the problem. And only if there is something that the Engineering Manager or the CTO has to be involved in order to facilitate the solution. Only then is this team gathering for help outside. That’s for me, high-performing team. In terms of purely like people way of things is having this autonomy and a clear organization that can be sustainable and they can operate on their own. And on the technical side of things, it’s about automating as much as possible. So every single minute someone is putting into the code, it’s for a meaningful reason. It’s about business logic, is about adding value, and it’s not about doing repetitive things.

[00:31:36] Cultivating Ownership

[00:31:36] Henry Suryawirawan: So when you say about ownership and autonomy, I fully agree with that. One of the challenge actually, except the founder or the co-founding members, when you hire someone from outside, there’s a different level of degree of ownership. Because probably it’s not their company. They are just paid for doing the job. How do you actually cultivate this ownership within a company? Or do you actually filter those people from the beginning when you do interview them before they join? Or how do you actually cultivate this ownership mentality within the team? So that everybody is motivated, staffs owning the problem, solving the problem, getting it done and all that.

[00:32:12] Alvaro Moya: Yeah. From my side, the first barrier that I put is on the interview level, as you mentioned. So for me, cultural fit is the most important part, and high-performing mindset. So, being a high-performer themselves, understanding what is for them in a high-performing team. Which are the benefits? And they are willing to be in a high-performing team with top talent. It’s essential for me. So if I don’t see this fit for the very beginning, and I put this cultural fit as the first interview, even before the coding part, when I see that they are going to be a great fit or not. And that is the first filter for me. So doing the right questions and really focusing on the personal side, putting the person in the center and being curious about other experiences where they can. So, how they give the extra mile every single time for every single company? How they really fight for the company as if it was yours? That’s the most important part for me. When they really demonstrate that, when they really demonstrate the extra mile also with these side hustles that they have really passion for learning. They are taking feedback seriously. How they can quickly evolve a solution or change the mindset according to feedback from the relevant people and not being really, really stubborn is, for me, really important in this stage. And this is what I try to get from the questions in the interview.

But later on, as I have said, for example, the C level has the greatest responsibility to inspire the people, and to define the culture with every single action. So they are leading by example. So for me, the other way I’ve used the tools that the company has are the culture is like the C level is enforced to lead by example, are the first one that need to live those values of high-performing teams or autonomy, or giving the ownership. And given that the people is expecting from them to make the rules, you need to both demonstrate really every single day that the rules are made by every single team. If they are making a mistake, they are openly talking about that mistake publicly in the company. They are talking more about the consequences and what they are going to do to solve it, and moving fast, and then having this kind of postmortem to get the learnings, rather than just complaining about the problems or whatever. This will give others their safe space as well for making those decisions. So for me, this is a way to cultivate that ownership.

And the other part of that is also a formal role is A, why don’t you put this ownership as part of the goals in the performance review? Because we are very used to put clear goals of deliveries, of business goals, but what about living the cultural values, living the values of the company every single day, and they need to bring real examples to the performance review session, so you can demonstrate how you are living those values. And then, having part of the bonus, parts of the perks related to these values as well as you have for the formal business goals. This is the other way I have seen is working really great, because they are able to decide how they are going to live their values. Which are the things I am going to do to live the value of ownership? Or I am result oriented, and then I can decide what I’m going to do the next quarter, the next three months, to demonstrate my team, to demonstrate my manager, to demonstrate the company that, I really live the values, and I have done beautiful things for the company that are going to give benefits no matter short or long term. But I have done it through these values.

It could be just maybe saying hi, for example, honestly, like helping to coordinate the Friday lunches. It can be like being the one that is approaching others when it is time for breakfast to say to all the departments, “Hey guys, girls, it’s time for the break. Who is joining me?” Or offering them water. So it’s making them feel good, making them feel at home. It’s something that the CEO is doing every single day as a founder. If that person is doing it on behalf of the CEO, this is how the culture really permeates into the other layers of the company. And that’s why for me, having it into this formal operations, the performance review, is important. Being it like breath every day in the culture is important. Filtering the right people from the very beginning is important. And this is for me, the three keys, I would say for ensuring that the culture of ownership, the culture of high-performance is long-lasting. It’s not just one’s part depending on the current people that started the company, but it’s also something that responds to the new people that you are hiring.

[00:36:14] Henry Suryawirawan: Thanks for sharing those tips and the framework how you would do about it to increase the ownership level within the company or your team.

[00:36:21] Becoming a Better Tech Leader

[00:36:21] Henry Suryawirawan: So for many people who started their career now in the tech leadership position, be it, for example, Tech Leads, or maybe some manager of a small team, what would you say to those aspiring leaders? How would you advise them to actually become a better technical leader, so to speak?

[00:36:37] Alvaro Moya: Yeah. So I think we have gone through many of the topics. At the end, I have this framework that we call tech leadership development framework, which is this path from self leadership. So self-awareness, I want to do it. I’m preparing my own plan. To then informal leadership, which is real actions you can do, even when you don’t hold the formal role. And then this will give you the access to formal leadership through application, through moving out to another company that is giving you the opportunity. But then at that point, it’s more about running the processes of the formal role in a better way, and keep inspiring your people. So this framework for me, with these three steps, has different things that you need to do.

For me, the most important, or the first one is once you know that this is for you, it’s about planning properly. So, which is your personal SWOT? I mean, which are the skills that you will still need? That you can get from this kind of podcast, a lot of other resources that you can find in the internet, and at Lidr we are trying to curate. But hey, what is needed from me for the next step, Tech Lead? I don’t have as much empathy. I don’t have the stakeholder view because they have been a backend developer myself, all my life. And then, A, which is the milestones I assigned to myself? So in the short and mid term, long term, I am reaching that point. So creating your own plan as if it was a company. You have goals to reach, and you need to be really strict with them. Can not be unmissable for you if this is your dream. That is a much bigger dream than your company’s is your own life. This is the best project you can be working on. You can not allow yourself to be missing the deadlines, just because there is a plan this Friday. If you have committed yourself to have, for example this podcast, you need to be there and be consistent. So for me, planning properly and really executing with clear and concrete milestones for that is the first step.

Then the actions on the how to do it, I have already gave a lot of advice about different things that you can do. And on top of that, I would say from the very beginning, build your network, get a mentor, or a couple of mentors. It’s something that everyone has to do. Your personal brand is everything you have. It’s going to make you stand out. It’s not only for marketers. It’s not only for founders. Everyone has a brand. And if you are doing excellently to build your brand around this Tech Lead Journal, that now has like these worldwide reach. But everyone can do it. You have mentioned you are working for a company. I have been working for a company while I was building my brand. But it requires time as well. So building your brand, building your network, publishing, being consistent with that. Adding 10 to 15 people every single week, and connecting with them on a personal level every single week. It’s not going to do anything if you do it just one week. But having a podcast, having a blog running every single week, having a newsletter, and connecting with 10, 15 people every single week, and connecting on a deep level, knowing what they do, how you can help them. Finding these opportunities to help all this in the ecosystem. At the end of the year, will be more than 700 contacts in your network. It will be 52 chapters of your blog of your newsletter, of your podcast, and these will create your brand.

If you’re working in an open source repository, the same. Being consistent, assign the time. Because this is your future. You are investing that time in your future. Not all the time is money. You can also be learning, reading, and acquiring knowledge as fast as possible. So you need to dedicate as well some time to make sure that every single week you are learning something new. It can be just watching YouTube episodes. It can be listening to this podcast. It can be reading books or blogs, or it can be paying for a training, like a formal training to accelerate the process, or to be in contact with the right people and the right mentors. But at the end, it’s all about that.

And my final advice, I already said, is learning by doing. So practice. Don’t just get the knowledge in your mind, because this is as karate or many other disciplines, Taekwondo, you can not learn karate, just reading books. You need to practice. You need to be exposed. You need to fail a lot. You need to really suffer these learning core. You need to fail. The point where you don’t know what you don’t know, and you feel like a Superman. And at some point, the moment of the illusion, because you feel like human again, and then building the final part of the journey in a more sustainable way. But you need to feel that. You need to feel the challenges. You need to face moments. Where do I struggling? Because this is the best way to learn.

And for me, it’s about being brave, being exposed, because any kind of fear you have is in your head. If you fear that haters are going to criticize your blog because it’s for newbies, or it’s not technical enough. Fears of not being able to deal in public with these kinds of communication in a podcast or being exposed in a meetup, and then being exposed to questions you are not sure you will be able to answer. At the end, it’s just internal views. And when you are there, you really feel 99% of the time, they were just ghosts, right? Nothing happens. All the people really appreciate your time, your effort to share with others. Even when it’s your experience, and you are not the most senior guy in the room. For sure, there will be more junior people in the room, and for them, they will be useful. So at the end, for me, it’s about really expose yourself, be willing to look for the opportunities. And then when you have the opportunity to in front of you, say yes. Say yes, face the unknown. Because at the end, no one is dying for these kinds of things. Even if you need to say no later, it’s much better than not even facing the challenge at the beginning. So that’s my piece of advice, and my set of things that I guess is what made me what I am. And I’m now trying to share with others in case it’s useful for them.

[00:41:56] Advice for Choosing Career Track

[00:41:56] Henry Suryawirawan: So, as you mentioned about fear, I think I agree that a lot of people actually have this fear internally, like afraid to do something, starting up with something. You mentioned in the beginning about the framework about this leadership. That it all starts from a self-leadership and self-awareness. A lot of people that I talk to, especially aspiring leaders as well, as they started their career, they have this fundamental question. I really don’t know what I want to achieve next. Some people, even at the intersection between either individual contributor or management track. So for those people who really are not comfortable choosing or probably not aware of which path they should take, what would be your advice to them?

[00:42:34] Alvaro Moya: For me, network and the mentor will have the answers. Communicating it with other people. Not thinking that you need to find out, that it’s your duty, it’s your responsibility to find out without help. A, ask for help. If you’re struggling and you still don’t know, ask for help. Try to discover what is there for you in the next step, in both career paths. At the end, you need to make a decision. The good thing is that you can always go back. Everything that you do is going to be a step forward. You don’t need to regret because everything you do in that path, even if it’s wrong, you will learn a lot of skills. You will build empathy with people that is in that role. And maybe if that’s not for you, it’s people that is going to be working for you as an individual contributor. So you are able to build the empathy, and you are going to understand how they do their work, and you are going to facilitate this working in the team with the team lead and you as an individual contributor, right?

So at the end, for me, it’s all about the fears, it’s the impostor syndrome we always have in tech. We always suffer it. And at the end, it’s your imagination, right? That wants to be safe. Your body has to be safe because there is a threat, there is menace outside, but we are not living in caves anymore. The worst thing is going to happen for you, what is that? Ask yourself. That’s for me, a clear question. That we move a lot of fears in just one point, like what’s the worst thing can happen? If I go for the individual contributor path for the next six months to try out. I have lost six months of my career. That means that as a fashion model, I will not be able to go back to that career six months later. This is not like that. You can always go back or just evolve and then go for that career later. If individual contributor is not for you anymore, you have been tired of that at some point, or you want to have more entropy in your life, and you want to push yourself in totally new. Whatever is the reason, at the end, there is no step back. There is not such a thing like regretting about the steps you are doing because, for every single step, you will have opportunities to learn. Opportunities to grow. People to know. And then with that, you will be in a much better position to take the other career whenever it is the time. So for me, it’s all about just going forward, and to run it by the right people to have the good information firsthand.

[00:44:45] Henry Suryawirawan: I like that when you say, just ask for help. Talking with people, with your network, with your mentor. Sometimes also people tend to try to find within themselves, either reading books or just listening to podcasts, something like this. But actually, it’s the activity of interacting with people that sometimes sparks these new ideas in your perspectives. So, thanks for sharing that.

[00:45:04] 3 Tech Lead Wisdom

[00:45:04] Henry Suryawirawan: So Alvaro, it’s been a great pleasure talking with you about this technical leadership. We reached the end of our conversation. But before I let you go, I have normally one question that I would ask for all my guests, which is for you to share your three technical leadership wisdom. Would you be able to share with us your wisdom?

[00:45:20] Alvaro Moya: So the motto of the company, and this is the first thing we delivered in the market, even before having a product, we were delivering our values, in a video that is now on YouTube. At the end, everything is about people. The companies I’m trying to build and I’m trying to encourage, all this to build through my learning, my experiences, the kind of services we deliver in the market, it’s about putting the people first. So you as a leader, your own responsibility and why you can be called as a leader is because others that are people, not machines, not software, it’s people, decides to follow you. So you need to put that people first and you need to do everything that it takes to make that people succeed. And only when they succeed they will be able, during their journey of succeeding themselves, delivering value for your company, for your team or for yourself as a leader. And then you will be recognized as a leader because you had an impact. But the first thing you were doing is trying to make them succeeding. Whatever it is, the way for them to succeed. That would be for me the best, the first reason. More people, more companies, being people first and orientating the leadership to working for people, for the internal people.

The second one would be more impactful companies. I mean, we have no planet B and we are reaching our tipping point. And if we don’t build companies that are related to sustainability and being in this planet. I mean, thinking that we can really establish a colony in Mars is a utopia. Yes. And if you are betting all your money on just that idea and keep wasting, degraded the planet, we are not going to get there, definitely. And even if we can get there, will not be all of us. So in order to prevent bigger pains, I think everyone of us can do their own thing. For those that has entrepreneurial mindset or for those that are deciding where to work, for me, the most impactful company you can work or the more impactful company, the better. Because you can still do what you love, but you will be warrantying our survival as a species. So that’s the second one.

The last one is removing the barrier between tech and business. This is one of the goals of leader, right? On one side, teaching leadership in tech, and giving this kind of business vision to techies and Tech Leaders is going to help a lot in running companies, successful startups, successful scaleups in terms of communication, empathy and aligned vision, whatever. But on the other side, we can also remove the barrier in tech for business people. Because they are afraid of tech. They think that tech is a huge black box, and the techies are something that had been a stereotype for years. I think we all need to also do an effort to remove the technical jargon, and being able to expose the basics in tech in our companies. So that barrier is finally removed, and then business feels empowered to even play with tech, through no-code tools. They can have a nice and productive conversation with tech because they can build the empathy to know what they do. How they do it through Agile, Scrum, Kanban, whatever. Which are the tools they use? Which are the fundamentals? The basics of software development so they can have this productive conversation. And they also feel more confident that they know what the business is about. So building this cross communication, business delivering more of the vision, more of the long-term goals in tech. And tech delivering some of the basics of how and what they do and why they do it. To business, will be just one team.

At the end is just one team, just one family with a single aligned goal, or this is the expected way of operating a business. Not having two teams trying to do the less for the others, because they are just interrupting their workflow. At the end, they are working aligned to have a same goal. Removing this barrier for me is critical for the success of more startups and scaleups in the market. And then having this startup ecosystem really thriving in places where it is sustainable, mature like Europe, for example. So, that’s for me, the three wisdoms. They were a myriad of tech and business between them, more impactful companies, and more people first companies.

[00:49:04] Henry Suryawirawan: Thanks for sharing that. It’s really beautiful when you care about the impact of your company, especially to the sustainability of the place where we live. So thanks Alvaro for sharing that. So for people who want to connect with you, or maybe find out more about Lidr.co, where can they find you online?

[00:49:20] Alvaro Moya: I’m very active in LinkedIn. So you can look for Alvaro Moya and that’s it. Alvaro@Lidr.co is my professional email. I will be there as well. And for everyone that is aspiring to get their formal role in tech leadership, we have created our own community. I’m using the Slack. So you can go to Lidr.co/community as well, and you can apply. We will be really happy to have more people from around the world sharing experiences. And at the end, learning together how to navigate this complex role where like experience and see some CTOs from all around the world, and big well-known companies are mixing with aspiring leaders. They are maybe still developers, but we are selling these experiences and they are getting exposed to this kind of conversations where they can learn every day. What I have said, that is important for me to build these roles from the informal side. We are trying to facilitate Lidr as a stage for them to really interact there. So, I will be there in all those channels.

[00:50:10] Henry Suryawirawan: Thanks for also doing these amazing things, growing up leadership within the industry, within the communities. I think it’s really beautiful thing. So thanks Avaro for your time. Looking forward to seeing you again next time.

[00:50:22] Alvaro Moya: Thank you very much, Henry, for this opportunity. It’s been an amazing conversation. Thank you so much for conducting it in this natural, organic way. Thank you very much. Pleasure.

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