TL;DR: Influence in the tech world isn't reserved for C-suite executives alone. As a Full Circle Tech Officer (FCTO) coaching developers, I've learned that anyone can achieve greatness with the right guidance. Influence is about effective communication, understanding your audience, maintaining composure, and being solution-oriented. Here are my top five tips: Listen actively, speak the language of your audience, stay calm under pressure, tackle challenges without complaining, and always bring solutions to the table.
You've probably noticed how everyone seems to be a leader these days – scroll through LinkedIn, and you'll see what I mean. Even my mom is a CTO now (just kidding, mom)! But here's the thing: influence isn't just for those with fancy titles. As someone who spends most of their time as an FCTO coaching brilliant developers, I've seen firsthand that everyone is capable of greatness. It's all about nurturing that potential and preparing them to step up when I'm not around.
So, how do you, as a developer, acquire influence within your organization? Let me share some gems from my playbook:
1. Listen More, Talk Less
Okay, let's be professional here (we are on LinkedIn, after all): Shut Up! I mean it in the nicest way possible. Often, the key to understanding and influence lies in the nuances of what's being said. So, close your mouth, open your ears, and listen. The root of a problem is often hidden in those subtle details.
2. Know Your Audience
When you're talking tech, it's crucial to speak the language of your listener. Chatting with the product team? Frame your points in a way that resonates with them. Discussing with the CEO? Skip the tech jargon about 'Snorlax nodes sleeping' and focus on solutions from a business perspective. Remember, the 'how' is often less important to them than the 'what' and 'why.'
3. Stay Cool Under Pressure
Things in tech break – it's a fact. But here's the catch: if you panic, it signals unreliability. Stay calm, and be the rock your team can lean on. This isn't about not caring; it's about breathing through the chaos and finding solutions. Grace under pressure is a valuable form of influence.
4. No Whining, Just Fixing
Bugs happen. Systems crash. And yes, sometimes the intern might break something for the tenth time. But complaining won't fix anything. Be the team player who steps in, solves the issue, and, if necessary, mentors the one who made the mistake. That's real leadership.
5. Be a Solution Bringer
In the tech world, problem-talk is for shop talk. When addressing broader teams or leadership, bring solutions, not problems. This approach showcases your ability to think critically and proactively.
Influence in tech is about much more than just your technical skills. It's about communicating, handling pressure, solving problems, and understanding the people around you. Follow these steps, and you'll be on your way to becoming a developer who writes great code and inspires and leads within your organization. Go for it!