Building Alignment

Monday, January 21st - Friday, February 15th, 2019
A transformative, 4-week Co Leadership online course for tech leads, managers, senior engineers, product managers, and other leaders in tech.

Building Alignment

January 21st, 2019 - February 15th, 2019
January 21st - February 15th, 2019

Break through team friction, build alignment to get on the same page, and create a high-trust and high-performance team.

“I have tried for years to be a change agent alone on my own. Those days are over.”

“I now know how to intentionally create shared alignment with people and make sure we move towards the same goal.”

“I'm most excited about having a common framework for dealing with awkward or tough situations. It's almost like an interface or an API for relationships. It's the greatest thing.”

Join this growing movement of leaders in tech.

Show me how

Hi! I'm Edmond Lau. I'm the author of The Effective Engineer and a co-founder of Co Leadership. I've been building and leading teams across Silicon Valley at Google, Quora, Quip, and Ooyala for over a decade.

I remember a time when I felt the most uncertain and alone at work.

I'd been excited to be the new project lead — finally a leadership role! — but now I just felt overwhelmed. Every day, I'd bounce from team meeting to 1:1 to code review to urgent question to pager duty alert — whatever required my attention.

I couldn't tell if I was making a difference at all. I still had my own engineering work to do, too, and sometimes, I wouldn't get to it until late into the evening. But at least I could feel a little bit of productivity and relief in my day.

The launch date was only days away, and the engineers and product managers on my team were still arguing about priorities.

“We can't possibly ship without that.”
“We can't increase the scope without pushing out the launch date.”
“Why can't you just get the team to do it faster?”
“Oh, I had assumed we would ship it with this feature as well.”
“He told me your team was owning this other feature for the launch.”

I didn't know how to get my team on the same page about priorities. Why were they working on that low-priority issue, when the main features hadn't been completed? How could I get them to only focus on the things that mattered for launch?

I didn't want to micro-manage my team, so I just hoped things would come together on their own.

They didn't. I ended staying up until 2am to finish everything myself.

We shipped the project, but I was exhausted. It wasn't super bad, but it wasn't the best either — and I knew it wasn't sustainable.

The worst part of all this was, I didn't even know if I was doing a good job.

I felt like an imposter, like I was winging it.

“Do I even belong here?”

For a long time, I thought that my situation was unique to my team, career, and company.

In the last few years, I've realized that I wasn't as alone as I thought. As I wrote my book, The Effective Engineer, I interviewed engineering leaders at Google, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Airbnb, Reddit, and other top tech companies around Silicon Valley, gathering their costly mistakes and most valuable lessons. And people everywhere — whether they were tech leads, managers, or even directors — related to the same struggles of leadership.

How do you lead without authority? How do you have more impact? How do you get people aligned beyond a clear goal? How do you have difficult conversations? How do you know you're doing a good job?

This past year, I co-founded Co Leadership with Jean Hsu. Together, we've been designing and co-leading dozens of leadership experiences and courses for engineering leaders, so that you can start leading from where you are so you can have the impact and influence you want.

We're the founders of Co Leadership and your course co-leaders.

Jean Hsu

I'm an engineering-manager-turned-leadership coach. I've coached 50+ individual contributors, tech leads, managers, and VPs at companies that include Dropbox, Medium, Asana, Slack, Github, Stripe, IFTTT, and Lever.

Edmond Lau

I'm the author of The Effective Engineer. I've coached 50+ people ranging from individual contributors, tech leads, managers, directors, and CTOs. My engineering and career advice has been featured on Forbes, Time, Slate, Inc., and Fortune.

We bring decades of experience building high-growth teams at companies including Google, Pulse, Medium, Quora, and Quip.

Previous Attendees At Co Leadership Experiences Have Included People From:

  • Clients
  • Clients
  • Clients
  • Clients
  • Clients
  • Clients
  • Clients
  • Clients
  • Clients
  • Clients
  • Clients

“This course is thoughtful and practical. Edmond and Jean do a great job of explaining why lack of alignment is a root cause of not being productive as an engineer. They also provide a framework for how to build alignment, as well as concrete tools to do so. I have already been able to apply this iteratively to my work relationships and it is making a positive difference. It's helped me approach my work relationships more strategically and be more explicit about building alliances and discover what matters to people.”

Jeremy Clemenson - Engineer at Stripe

“This is not your typical training program! Others seem to be a long list of tactics divorced from real life. This workshop series shared useful tactics contextualized in self-awareness, with concrete actions our current and emerging engineering leaders could incorporate into their day-to-day work.”

Madeline Bermes - Head of Engineering Operations at Medium

In co-leading leadership experiences in Silicon Valley and coaching engineering leaders worldwide, we've discovered a common pattern that holds people back as they take on informal or formal leadership roles, regardless of company size or location.

Up to a certain point, you can be successful by working hard and by being effective at your own tasks. But then as your work depends on more people, you hit what feels like an upper limit:

Friction and miscommunication keep slowing things down.

You get stuck. You see the potential that your team could be reaching, but you're not sure how to get there.

The things you try can all feel hit-or-miss.

You've talked to your manager about the problem, who seems to listen and sometimes gives helpful advice on how to lead the team. Other times, nothing comes out of it, and you don't know what to do next.

You're reading books — Radical Candor, The Manager's Path — and any blog posts on engineering leadership that you can get your hands on. But understanding something intellectually just isn't the same as internalizing it into your daily practice.

You've looked for mentors, but they all seem so busy. Sometimes you get a lucky break and get a coffee meeting. But you still don't know how to get them to invest in your success.

But what if you had the tools to break through team friction and the recipes to handle difficult team situations?

What if you could clearly communicate what was important in every project and get your team aligned behind those priorities?

What if you could quickly build a circle of trust on your team through short but impactful conversations?

What if you could boldly give feedback that lands with the person you share it with, and receive feedback without taking it personally?

What would be possible for you?

Many things that you thought were hard as a leader would become easy.

You'd stop wasting all your mental and emotional energy second guessing people's motivations — and feel equipped with the vocabulary and language to clear up any stories you might have made up. With that saved energy, you'd focus on building a really great team and product.

You'd be able to develop and grow the engineers on the team with frequent feedback, knowing that people would see your good intentions and understand that the feedback is a gesture of trust.

You'd break out of what feels like a tug-of-war between competing priorities, knowing clearly what each stakeholder cares about the most.

Instead of trying to build consensus — which can oftentimes be elusive — you'd ensure that everyone feels heard and their inputs included before going forward with an aligned decision.

Your teammates would follow in your leadership, take ownership, and pitch in where they're most needed.

And at the end of the day, you'd look back at the progress the team is making, and be confident in knowing:

“I'm doing a good job.”

This is all possible for you.

Stop waiting. Start leading from where you are.

All it takes is building alignment.

— Introducing —

Building Alignment: How to Create the Impact and Influence You Want as a Leader in Tech

A transformative, 4-week Co Leadership online course for tech leads, managers, senior engineers, product managers, and other leaders in tech.

What is building alignment?

Building alignment is explicitly designing your relationships around what's important — so that you can accelerate the building of trust, rather than wait for years for it to accumulate.

It's conversations that explicitly share mutual expectations, so that you can effectively manage up, down, and sideways.

It's dialogue that invests in the infrastructure of your relationships, so that you can build peer and cross-functional support and turn co-workers into allies.

It's a powerful tool to make hard things easier and faster, letting you break through team friction, swiftly get people on the same page, and set shared goals that move the company forward — even when you don't have explicit authority.

“I have tried for years to be a change agent alone on my own. Those days are over. I'm trying to find alignment with other people — finding people who are motivated to change something with me and finding small teams to work on change. I definitely spent too much energy alone. It has been a big relief for me to learn that I can strategically form alliances around the changes I want to see.”

Max Moldmann - Software Development Lead at John Deere

“I've spent a lot of time in various trainings and coaching sessions (including the first year of an Harvard Business School MBA!) I felt Jean and Edmond did a great job of pulling out specific, high impact communication techniques and creating a safe environment to practice them in. I'd highly recommend going to their workshop with a friend, coworker, or cofounder.”

Ellen Chisa - Co-Founder and CEO of Dark Inc.

In this online Building Alignment leadership and communication course, we teach powerful frameworks grounded in hundreds of hours of leadership coaching and development with tech leads, managers, directors, VPs, and CTOs.

We're both engineers at heart, and we've taken the “soft” skills of leadership and turned them into concrete frameworks and systems that you can use to completely change your day-to-day work.

I'm most excited about having a common framework for dealing with awkward or tough situations. It's almost like an interface or an API for relationships. It's the greatest thing. I'm not a hugely extroverted person, so having this kind of tool is invaluable. It's just super super good.
Marco Ponti - IT Operations Manager at rateGenius, Inc.

How to acquire leadership skills can often seem like a mystery. Without guidance and a roadmap, stumbling around in the dark can feel like a painful exercise of trial-and-error.

In this 4-week leadership course, we've distilled the most important communication patterns we've identified from our combined decades in engineering and coaching — so that you no longer have to stumble around.

What's clear to me now is that when you look at people or leaders or role models who communicate really well, who build alignment with their teams — now I understand that there is something I can do to become one of those people. There is something I can actually do to design my relationships. I'm more in control. That is clear to me now. It's terrific. I love it.
Matias Lespiau - VP of SaaS Operations at Aurea Software

The course includes 4 modules, delivered one per week, that show you how to effectively get people on the same page.

Module 1 — Leveling Up Your Mindsets: How to Amplify Your Influence by Focusing on What's Important

What You'll Learn:

  • The 3 key leadership mindsets that let you effectively build alignment and influence behavior without authority.
  • How to use powerful questions to discover what really matters to stakeholders and reduce wasted time and frustration.
  • Small but powerful changes to your communication style to hear what people aren't explicitly saying.
  • Effectively using one-on-one time with your manager, co-workers, or direct reports so that it feels like time well-spent.

Module 2 — Designing Your Alliances: How to Turn Your Co-workers and Manager into Allies

What You'll Learn:

  • The strategy for effectively directing your time and energy to have the impact you want on projects, people, and processes.
  • A 4-step framework to turn expectations from a source of friction and tension to a foundation for building trust.
  • How to get enthusiastic buy-in and support on initiatives you want to move forward.
  • Are people around you not taking enough ownership? Learn how to clearly communicate what you expect from your teammates and what they can expect from you.
  • Effectively managing up to get support for your career growth and get recognized for your achievements.

Module 3 — Creatively Find Shared Alignment: How to Break Through When You're Feeling Stuck

What You'll Learn:

  • How to influence and get buy-in from key stakeholders when you have limited time and opportunities to communicate with them.
  • A powerful model to generate a no-brainer proposal when you need to navigate cross-team dynamics or handle competing requirements.
  • A structured process to find the highest leverage goals or pain points of stakeholders and quickly build buy-in for an initiative you want to drive forward.
  • How to build enthusiasm and momentum around your work, regardless of who you're communicating with — a peer, another team, executives, or the company.

Module 4 — Clearing Stories: How to Continuously Build Trust and Reduce Friction

What You'll Learn:

  • How to make it easier for yourself to ask for help and to give direct feedback.
  • A technique to intentionally accelerate the building of trust rather than wait for it to build over years.
  • Word-for-word scripts you can use to introduce hard conversations that address tension and conflict.
  • How to effectively deliver feedback in a way that lands and leads to actionable next steps and change in future behavior.
  • A tool that lets you stop second guessing other people's intentions when they make comments and quickly discover their underlying motivations.

Here's what you get for each module over the 4-week course:

  • Module content: Every Monday, we'll release new videos, demos, and additional resources that teach a new set of frameworks and recipes on how to effectively build alignment.
  • Experiential practice: We'll host weekly live sessions on Thursdays at 9:30AM PT and 4:00PM PT (you can attend either time) where you practice the skills with other course participants over a video call.
  • Live group discussion: After each practice session, we'll debrief the experience with the group to ask questions, share feedback, discuss nuances, and explore ways to leverage the tools more effectively at work.
  • Online community: You'll join the other participants in a shared learning space where you can ask questions to us and to the group to continue deepening the learnings of the course.
  • Leadership challenges: We'll post weekly challenges to apply the lessons back to your team and create the impact and influence you want.

The experiential practice and live group discussions will take place on Thursdays at 9:30AM PT and 4:00PM PT (January 24th, January 31st, February 7th, and February 14th) over an hour-long video call. You're free to attend whichever time works better for you. The discussions will be recorded and shared for those who aren't able to attend.

The expected time commitment for the course is 2-3 hours per week.

“My biggest concern was finding the material too difficult or vague for everyday use. Happily all the modules are built for singular use as well as combined with other modules for maximum impact. The structured practice and well constructed videos made the material easy to digest and changed the way I think about relationships across the board.”

Marco Ponti - IT Operations Manager at rateGenius, Inc.

“The workshop had a lot of valuable insights about effective communication and some tools specifically for getting to the root of what motivates people. Techniques like asking powerful questions have helped me in interpersonal relationships. I can imagine how it could add value to my team at work—I want all of them to take it!”

Elizabeth Ford - Engineer at Airbnb

We've been running dozens of live in-person leadership experiences, and our quality bar is nothing short of creating transformational, “aha moments” for those who attend.

Prior to taking the course, I struggled with "Implicit versus Explicit expectations" within my organization. At the time, I didn't know how to define it; I just knew our small but growing team wasn't firing on all cylinders and was struggling to meet my expectations at times. Defining "implicit versus explicit expectations" has been the single biggest "aha" moment I've had in quite some time.

As engineers, we hide behind backlogs, kanban boards, daily stand-ups, sprint planning, status reports, etc. and delude ourselves into thinking we are communicating and leading our teams and organizations. These tools all serve a valuable purpose, but effective communication does not begin (or end) here.

Building and maintaining alignment within our teams, departments and organizations is a vital part of effective and healthy communication. Taking the time to build these alliances, to truly understand motivations of stakeholders and to explicitly state shared goals and understandings is how we can all start to communicate and lead more effectively and makes all the other tools we as an industry rely upon that much more useful.
Tim Lentine - Product Development Director at CAPS

Co Leadership participants from organizations of all shapes and sizes — whether it's a large organization like Google, Slack, Dropbox, or Lyft; a fast-growing medium-sized company like Medium, Heroku, Intercom, Quora, Opendoor, Asana, and Patreon; or a small team or startup — have shared the impact of our tools and frameworks.

And now, we're excited to share everything we've learned and developed with you.

“Edmond and Jean provide short and to-the-point videos of the tools and methods that are very easy to understand. In the course you have the ability to practice these in experiential sessions with other like-minded participants. The tools have a profound impact on how I communicate and align with people, that really helps in any relationship.

Being an engineer and more focused on technical aspects, I have always seen relationships as something that happens coincidentally. In the course, I learned an easy-to-understand but highly powerful framework that helps me have very meaningful and impactful conversations. I now know how to intentionally create shared alignment with people and make sure we move towards the same goal.”

Fabian Keller - Software Engineer at mimacom

Which Package is Right for You?

Building Alignment Foundations

Recommended for engineers, data scientists, and emerging leaders

  • The full Building Alignment course
  • Experiential practice
  • Live group discussions
  • Online community
  • Leadership challenges
Get full details

$997

Building Alignment Team Leadership

Highly recommended for tech leads, managers, product managers, senior individual contributors, and other engineering leaders

  • The full Building Alignment course
  • Experiential practice
  • Live group discussions
  • Online community
  • Leadership challenges

plus

  • Bonus advanced module on Influencing Teams
  • The Tactical Toolkit for Aligning Your Team
  • Foundational Coaching Skills for Engineering Leaders workshop
Get full details

$1,497

Building Alignment Foundations Package

This foundational package includes the core elements of the Building Alignment course and experiential learning.

Recommended for engineers, data scientists, and emerging leaders.

  • Full Building Alignment course: Every week, we'll release new videos, demos, and additional resources that teach a new set of frameworks and recipes on how to effectively build alignment. You'll have lifetime access to the content.
  • Experiential practice: We'll host weekly live sessions on Thursdays at 9:30AM PT and 4:00PM PT (you can attend either time) where you practice the skills with other course participants over a video call.
  • Live group discussion: After each practice session, we'll debrief the experience with the group to ask questions, share feedback, discuss nuances, and explore ways to leverage the tools more effectively at work.
  • Online community: You'll join the other participants in a shared learning space where you can ask questions to us and to the group to continue deepening the learnings of the course.
  • Leadership challenges: We'll post weekly challenges to apply the lessons back to your team and create the impact and influence you want.
$997

If you have questions or concerns about the course, email us. We're happy to help.
support@coleadership.com

Building Alignment Team Leadership Package

The Team Leadership package includes everything in the Foundations package, plus a bonus advanced Influencing Teams module, The Tactical Toolkit for Aligning Your Team, as well as access to our live 2-hour online Foundational Coaching Skills for Engineering Leaders workshop.

Recommended for tech leads, managers, product managers, senior individual contributors, and other engineering leaders.

  • Full Building Alignment course: Every week, we'll release new videos, demos, and additional resources that teach a new set of frameworks and recipes on how to effectively build alignment. You'll have lifetime access to the content.
  • Experiential practice: We'll host weekly live sessions on Thursdays at 9:30AM PT and 4:00PM PT (you can attend either time) where you practice the skills with other course participants over a video call.
  • Live group discussion: After each practice session, we'll debrief the experience with the group to ask questions, share feedback, discuss nuances, and explore ways to leverage the tools more effectively at work.
  • Online community: You'll join the other participants in a shared learning space where you can ask questions to us and to the group to continue deepening the learnings of the course.
  • Leadership challenges: We'll post weekly challenges to apply the lessons back to your team and create the impact and influence you want.

plus

  • Bonus advanced Influencing Teams module:: In this bonus module, you'll learn advanced alignment building skills for team leads. You'll understand why it's important to explicitly design a team alliance beyond individual alliances and the 3-Question Litmus Test for evaluating team alignment. You'll discover how to identify gaps in a team's alignment and redesign the alliance to fill it.
  • The Tactical Toolkit for Aligning Your Team: This PDF toolkit contains detailed questions and checklists for evaluating, building, and maintaining alignment on your team. You'll also find powerful, sample scripts for conversations and emails that you can use to surface gaps in understanding and alignment and fill them.
  • The Foundational Coaching Skills for Engineering Leaders workshop: Have you felt uncertain or stuck about how to help someone when you don't know enough about their work or area of expertise? As engineers, we readily dive into advice-giving and problem-solving mode, but we don't always know enough about someone's project or situation to give advice — and often, what worked for you won't necessarily work for someone else.

    In this live 2-hour workshop, you'll learn and practice core coaching tools to prompt someone to look at an issue from a few different perspectives and equip them with tools to solve problems critically on their own. You'll integrate these building blocks into entire coaching conversations — especially useful around professional development as well as technical areas in which you have less experience. The workshop takes place on Thursday, February 28th, 2019 9:30AM PT.
$1,497

If you have questions or concerns about the course, email us. We're happy to help.
support@coleadership.com

Jumpstart Your Entire Team by Building Shared Alignment

Turn your team into a highly engaged and autonomous group by getting Building Alignment for your entire team. Get the course for an entire product team, for all your emerging leaders, or for cross-functional team leads.

You'll get powerful shared language, tools, and frameworks for aligning everyone behind the best tradeoffs, for reducing team friction, and effectively hitting your business's goals.

Going through the Co Leadership training with my coworkers was a powerful experience. We not only developed deeper understanding and relationships with each other, but also gained vocabulary and skill sets to identify and resolve some of the hardest challenges in our working relationships.
Yang Su - Tech Lead at Quip
In just a few weeks, Edmond and Jean transformed fifteen Quip engineers into empowered leaders. After going through the program, the engineers spearheaded initiatives to improve team processes around new hire onboarding, product review, and code deployment. I also notice that my reports who went through the program are more comfortable broaching difficult topics with their teammates to build alignment. Even months later, I see the engineers self-organize at lunch to support one another as they propose solutions to the challenges facing our team. Edmond and Jean helped our engineers build a close community, discover a shared vocabulary for approaching interpersonal challenges, and practice wielding their influence to improve our team’s culture.
Nikrad Madhi - Engineering Manager at Quip
The experience had a strong positive effect on Medium’s informal engineering leaders to date, leading to more open and honest discussion about our current challenges. In the company all-hands meeting after the last session, there was a noticeable uptick in how lively and healthy the questions to executives were. The group is well prepared to address and help fix the company’s hardest cultural barriers!
Jimmy O'Neill - Staff Engineer at Medium

Q&A about the course

What does it mean for this to be experiential?

We focus on creating experiential courses because decades of research in learning have shown that the learning sticks best when you experience it. This is especially true when you experience the learning in a supportive environment where everyone else is practicing and reinforcing the learnings as well. And given limited time, why not invest in the learning that actually sticks?

What if I can't make every Thursday experiential session?

The experiential practice sessions are an important part of learning the tools and frameworks. But we also know life happens, and it may not be possible to attend every session. We will record the subsequent group discussion for people to watch if they really can't make the sessions.

Is the online course as good as an in-person experience?

After every single event we run, we debrief and discuss what would translate well into an online experience, what wouldn't translate well into an online experience, and what would be possible or even better for an online experience. We're committed to making our online courses as experiential and as powerful as our live, in-person experiences.

What if I'm in a unique situation and environment?

We've coached and trained hundreds of engineering leaders across the industry, and we hear this a lot. The feeling of your situation being unique is real — and indeed people's situations are different. But you'd also be surprised how many pervasive themes there are throughout the industry.

This limiting belief that no one else shares your situation is also incredibly isolating. It makes it harder to ask for help if you don't feel like anyone understands what you're going through. Many people struggle with imposter syndrome, not feeling good enough, not knowing whether they're doing a good job, in some shape or form. We've crafted this experience to have multiple layers of learnings so that it is extremely applicable to any leader in tech.

How do I ask my manager?

One of the most valuable skills we can develop is advocating for ourselves. The most important thing is to ask. Show them this page. They can say no, there's no budget, but then they know you're interested in leadership training, and that may open up other possibilities and opportunities.

Start the conversation with what you're hoping to get out of it that would be good for your team or company: “I'm looking to develop skills to have a greater impact on the company,” or “I want to learn how to more effectively work with my peers across the company so that we can make decisions faster.” One of our previous participants thought that leadership experience wasn't directly relevant to her work as an individual contributor, but when she asked her manager, he just said, “Of course! Sign up right away.”

What if I can't make this course (or don't have time or desire to provide a lot of feedback), but am interested in future leadership courses?

Let us know, and we'll keep you posted about future opportunities.

“After the course, I feel that just like software, communication and keeping working relationships healthy are also skills you want to develop. You have problems, you have designs, and you have to maintain it. Otherwise, it will create all kinds of problems. Before, I used to think if you can talk, you can communicate, but that's not true. Just because you can write doesn't mean you can write code. There's a gap there that has to be filled — this is something that needs work, and you have to learn how to do it and practice. I think that's my biggest understanding after the whole course.”

Ningyu Shi - Senior Principal Engineer at Cadence Design Systems

Building Alignment Foundations

  • The full Building Alignment course
  • Experiential practice
  • Live group discussions
  • Online community
  • Leadership challenges
Reserve my spot

$997

If you have questions or concerns about the course, email us. We're happy to help.
support@coleadership.com

Building Alignment Team Leadership

  • The full Building Alignment course
  • Experiential practice
  • Live group discussions
  • Online community
  • Leadership challenges

plus

  • Bonus Influencing Teams module
  • The Tactical Toolkit for Aligning Your Team
  • Foundational Coaching Skills for Engineering Leaders workshop
Reserve my spot

$1,497

If you have questions or concerns about the course, email us. We're happy to help.
support@coleadership.com