- SE Leader skill sets do not translate to new companies
- SE Leaders are extremely cross functional and each org expects something different
Skills Do Not Translate
The most disappointing thing I have observed lately is when a top notch SE Leader (SEL) is looking to move to a new company and but their current skill set is focused on how to navigate their current company vs. transferrable customer value skills. This tends to be a symptom of large companies SEL’s.
In a large technology company the majority of an SEL’s time can be consumed with the demands of reporting from corporate, doing their sales leader’s forecast spreadsheets, knowing how to escalate support tickets, knowing who in the engineering or product management teams to contact, etc. As the demand to do these activities has increased the SEL has decreased their Technical Skill Set. When they are removed from their current company 80% of their value add is removed.
I am an SE Leader not a Player/Coach or Super SE!
How could I possibly learn all of the technologies that my company sells – there are too many!
- Only 1 in 8 had a computer science degree
- Only 3 in 8 had an some form of formal software education (assuming EE people had to take more than 2 computer science classes)
- There were 2x as many liberal arts degree holders vs. computer science
Thus my two pleas:
SE Leaders are Extremely Cross Functional and Each Org Expects Something Different
- Sales Leader: They need to be strong in business and direct customer contact/selling. They MUST have worked at XYZ or ABC competitor. They have to be high energy and own the room! We don’t want people from big companies – they don’t know how to run fast.
- People Ops: even though this role has 8 direct reports they must have managed teams of 50+ before because they will need to grow into that role. I am sure they don’t mind taking a step back in scope/title.
- Product Management:they should have 30 years experience in our industry but be up to date on all the modern stuff. They need to be an architect and product expert.
- Development: they need to be able to write code in order to customize our great platform.
- Support: they need to be an expert on reading logs and handling customer escalations. The SE team owns troubleshooting first.
SE Leader Job Description
- Voice of the Customer → Urgency, context, futures
- Advisor to the Customer → Expectations, architecture, insight to peer companies, be a ‘challenger’, be ‘on stage’
- Capability Building → invest 10% of your resources to fixing and improving
Is the Problem or Opportunity a Root Cause of a Symptom?
- If something is broken in your area → I will consult/coach but you own it
- If something is broken in 2+ areas → It is systemic and I will own fixing it
- If something is working in 1 area → It is a best practice and I will own scale it
- People → Hiring, Enabling, Empowering, Engaging, Accountability
SE Leader Capabilities Weighting
- 25% Leadership and Capability Building (Team, X-Func)
- 20% Technology & Architecture Fundamentals
- 20% Company Culture Fit + SE Fit (Curiosity, Drive, Ethics)
- 15% Communication & Presentation (Own the Room)
- 10% Organized & Disciplined
- 10% Business Acumen
Leadership & Capability Building
- Ability to hire exceptional talent
- Ability to lead and develop talent to meet business plan
- Demonstrated ability to scale an organization
- Ability to demonstrate a “people play book” or a framework of how to get the best out of people
- Required Control Book/Playbook for structure
- Can name three strong hires that will follow him/her to this company
- Can lead cross functionally through influence not authority to improve processes, product, and other areas of need
Can hire and lead a diverse team (background, experience levels, personalities)
Technology & Architecture Fundamentals
- Understands current XYZ landscape and areas of XYZ technologies (Did they do their homework?)
- Broad understanding of XYZ reference architectures and operation
- Familiar with XYZ technologies
- They win not by understanding their customers’ world as well as the customers know it themselves, but by actually knowing their customers’ world better than their customers know it themselves, teaching them what they don’t know but should. Can they teach the interview panel something new?
- Demonstrates the ability to explain and articulate complex architecture/technology in simple terms.
Company Culture Fit + SE Fit (Curiosity, Drive, Ethics)
- <Your Company Culture Fit Criteria>
- Are they CURIOUS about how things and people work? (Lots of hobbies/interests, tech, always asking questions)
- Do they then have the DRIVE to get off the couch and discover the “why” and put it to use?
- Do they have the ETHICS to always do the right thing and collaborate well with others?
Communication & Presentation (Own the Room)
- The ability to do three things: teach, tailor, and take control
- Can push the customer out of their comfort zone
- Can focus and teach the customer value (rather than customer convenience)
- Persuasive consultative communication style
- Strong written skills (evidence; bring a proposal, C level correspondence, internal email)
- Creativity – did they customize the hiring presentation to convey new information in a compelling and cohesive manner
- Has used their network of advocacy along the way to build support within <hiring company> for their hire
- Has the confidence and ability to tell a CxO they are wrong, explain why, and still maintain or improve their relationship
- Strong customer facing skills
- Strong presence & credibility
Organized & Disciplined
In order to fulfill all of the operational tasks required of them but still have time to be customer facing an SE leader must have a very efficient approach to operations.
- Disciplined planning (evidence; has a weekly, monthly, quarterly and yearly plan (beyond quota)
- Leverages SFDC or other systems (Planning, track previous involvement, budget, users, etc.)
- Ability to work as an overlay resource, qualify opportunities, prioritize, handle prioritization conflicts
- Strategic thinker; demonstrated success in developing strategies
- Understands the levers in building a start up business (that doesn’t already have momentum or a strong market presence)
- Smartly leverages the channel and other partners
- Understanding of SaaS Based Revenue Models
- New ACV and New TCV, Run Rate/Renewal Revenue
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