Tech Leader Pro
Tech Leader Pro
Oct 15, 2023
Tech Leader Pro podcast 2023 week 41, staying calm under pressure
Play • 12 min

As a leader, you need to think about how you react when things go wrong. Your example matters.


  • In the software industry, bugs are a fact of life.
  • In complex systems that exist in complex environments, things can and will go wrong.
  • As a leader, you need to think about how you react when things go wrong.
  • An ex-manager of mine, who was a brilliant mentor, used to say: "John just present the facts and you can't go too far wrong. Don't get emotional."
  • As a leader, if you panic then others around you will panic, and you are calm they will be calm. You have influence, and your example matters.
  • In terms of a high-level process you can apply:
    1. Don't communicate anything until you know the facts, and tell your team the same. It just adds confusion if you communicate unproven facts too early.
    2. Choose a small team of experts, and task them to find the facts. Stay close to them.
    3. When the experts reach a conclusion, you as their leader summarize that, and then get them to review it for accuracy.
    4. Finally, you communicate the facts of what happened, how it happened, impacts, and actions to the stakeholders.
  • In general, engineers are not great at communicating because:
    1. They communicate "work in progress" findings too early, some of which will be false signals.
    2. They communicate too much detail.
    3. They go too deep on the technical details. -Your job as a leader is to be a world-class communicator: you need to take the raw facts from the engineers, and package that into a crisp summary that anyone in your organization can understand.
  • What I am working on this week:
    • - the Apache Nutch indexer is now a lot more stable since I added a lot more storage. It's slow, but stable. Now at 2.7m web pages indexed.
  • Media I am enjoying this week:
    • Diaspora by Greg Egan.
    • Caesar by Christian Meier.

Notes and subscription links are here:,-staying-calm-under-pressure

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