Building Alignment

Thursday, February 27th, 2020 9:30AM - 5:00PM | San Francisco
A transformative, 1-day Co Leadership experience for engineers, tech leads, managers, product managers, and others in tech.

Building Alignment

2/27/2020 in San Francisco
2/27/2020 in SF

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

What if you could confidently and consistently get your team motivated and on the same page about what's expected?

What if you could waste less time on tiring debates, and focus that time instead on what's actually important, like building a strong product and team?

What if you knew exactly what it meant to influence without authority and how to take back control of your career?

Stop waiting for opportunities to come to you. Start leading from where you are.

Show me how

— Introducing —

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


A transformative, 1-day Co Leadership experience for engineers, tech leads, managers, product managers, and others in tech.

With Edmond Lau and Jean Hsu

Thursday, February 27th, 2020 in San Francisco

“I've been to many professional development trainings but none of them provided as many actionable frameworks as Edmond and Jean shared. Armed with these tools, I feel more confident in my ability to get unstuck when I'm at an impasse with a key stakeholder.”

Kari Mah - Product Manager at Zillow Group

“Edmond and Jean put together an amazing workshop. Their presentation format of Explain, Demo, and Practice worked wonders and really proved how powerful their exercises were. In just 15 minutes of one exercise, my co-worker and I cracked through the problem of a non-productive recurring meeting we were having. And just two weeks later we implemented the changes and found resounding success! I highly recommend Edmond and Jean's work especially for leaders from different departments who work together on a daily basis.”

Brett Willemsen - Engineering Manager at Pager Duty

Hi! I'm Jean Hsu. I'm a co-founder of Co Leadership and an engineering-manager-turned-leadership coach with over a decade worth of experience leading and managing teams at Google, Medium, and Pulse.

I remember a time when I really struggled with leadership.

I felt exhausted in the morning just looking at my calendar. Another 5-hour block of back-to-back meetings. I knew that keeping 1:1s were important, but sometimes I couldn't tell if they were making a difference at all.

I quickly scanned the codebase and opened up a few pull requests to make some minor improvements — these small changes gave me an immediate sense of productivity and relief. I had done some work that day.

I was a new lead for a small project, and I had been excited to take it on. Finally! I was being given an opportunity. But I soon felt overwhelmed from being pulled in so many directions.

Halfway through the sprint, we were still waiting on designs for core functionality. The product managers were still sneaking in hypothetical features. It felt impossible to line up meaningful work for a handful of engineers.

“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.”

Just when I thought we had everything under control, another miscommunication reared its ugly head.

The launch date was only a few days away. I didn't know how to get my team on the same page about the priorities, and I didn't feel like I could ask people to work faster or later. I didn't want to micro-manage my team either, and so I just hoped I had been clear enough about what needed to get done.

I wasn't.

I ended staying up until 2am to finish everything myself and tie up all the loose ends.

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 thought that my situation was unique to my team, career, and company. When I started sharing more through my writing, I started receiving emails from people saying I was describing their situation exactly.

And in conversations with Edmond Lau, a leadership coach who wrote the book The Effective Engineer, we realized that many engineering leaders we've coached or worked with experience the same problems.

That's why we co-founded Co Leadership and are crafting leadership experiences to help people to start leading from where they are.

We're the founders of Co Leadership and your event 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:

In the past few years, we've coached over a hundred engineering leaders across the tech industry. And we've discovered a common pattern that holds people back as they take on informal or formal leadership roles.

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?

“I work with a team that is extremely diverse in their level of experience and communication styles and struggled to find a leadership style that serves them all well. The Co Leadership workshop taught us better ways to communicate one-on-one and to align on values. By far the largest impact the workshop had was that it empowered a new group of people at Medium to change and improve things within the organization.”

Kyle Mahan - Tech Lead at Medium

“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.

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 assumptions. 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.

— Presenting —

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

A transformative, 1-day Co Leadership experience for engineers, tech leads, managers, product managers, and others 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 or down.

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.

In this full-day leadership experience, we teach a powerful framework grounded in our hundreds of hours of leadership coaching and training. In addition to our combined decades of experience in engineering roles just like yours, we've coached over a hundred ICs, tech leads, managers, directors, VPs, and CTOs.

And we've distilled the most important communication patterns we've identified from our years of trial-and-error in engineering and coaching into a one-day leadership experience.

You'll watch live demos of communication skills and observe their impact. You'll get hands-on practice and feedback on your own practice in a highly supportive learning environment. And you'll engage in discussions of how to apply the tools and skills in real-world nuanced scenarios.

You'll leave feeling empowered and confident to immediately apply what you learn in your day-to-day work.

“In going through Building Alignment, I was able to confirm a long-held suspicion that a significant part of decision making is emotionally-driven. Facts and data are important, but they must be tied effectively to your stakeholders’ deeply-held concerns in order to gain alignment. Edmond and Jean’s workshop highlights this consideration and more importantly provides a systematic approach to unpacking these types of scenarios. This has added another dimension to the way that I approach my work, especially for larger projects and initiatives where access to stakeholders is limited.”

Dennis Poon - Engineering Manager at Pager Duty

“I've repeatedly gone back to the alignment tools we covered in the Building Alignment workshop. The tools covered in the workshop have given me a mental model for navigating the varied interests I've encountered initiating a larger, cross-company billing/payments project. I'm also using what I learned to coach team leads and PMs on techniques for overcoming sprint-to-sprint obstacles that often get in the way of us doing our best work.”

Rainieri Venturam - Senior Engineering Manager at Patreon

We highly encourage you to sign up with one or more teammates. They can be anyone you have some shared context with: a peer, a tech lead, an engineer, a product manager, a designer, a manager, or anyone else you work with.

If you come with teammates, you'll have the opportunity during the day to practice the tools you learn on real issues in your relationships in a safe environment. As a side effect, you and whoever you come with will take away an increased level of trust in the relationship. And you'll be able to leverage that trust to create more powerful results in any future projects that you do together.

Through the experience, you'll also get access to a community of individuals in situations similar to yours. During the breaks and catered lunch, you'll get to connect with other technical and product leaders to share stories and experiences.

Here are just a few things you'll learn from the experience.

What You'll Learn:

  • 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 but that drive and motivate their behavior.
  • Effectively using one-on-one time with your manager, co-workers, or direct reports so that it feels like time well-spent.
  • How to hone in on what's important to someone else when making decisions — a critical skill for interviewing and closing candidates, for getting buy-in for initiatives you want to create, and influencing without authority.
  • How to clarify priorities and business needs so that you can carve a path forward.

What You'll Learn:

  • A 4-step framework to turn your expectations of people around you from a source of friction and tension to a foundation for building trust.
  • The strategy for effectively directing your time and energy to have the impact you want on projects, people, and processes.
  • How to get enthusiastic buy-in and support on initiatives you want to move forward.
  • How to design your work relationships and turn co-workers — or even adversaries — into your allies.
  • How to explicitly distribute shared responsibilities on your team — so that you're not staying up late at night trying to finish things on your own.
  • Effectively managing up to get support for your career growth and get recognized for your achievements.

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.
  • Recipes and patterns for how to communicate in different real-life scenarios to achieve the impact you want.

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.

“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

“Edmond and Jean came across as well-planned, cohesive co-presenters. They both have the ability to break complex conversations to simple, first-principles based approach. It was an insightful day which provided the right amount of actionable tools for the attendees to build upon. I highly recommend them!”

Suyog Rao - Director of Engineering at Elastic Cloud

Previous Co Leadership Attendees Have Included People From:

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

As well as Airtable, Apollo, Apple, Atlassian, BART, Blue Apron, Capital One, Casper, Chain, ClassPass, Credit Karma, Dark, DoorDash, Dropbox, Ebay, Elasticsearch, Electronic Arts, Facebook, Fastly, First Round, Hashicorp, Heroku, IFTTT, Instacart, Instagram, Intercom, John Deere, Lever, Lime, LinkedIn, Microsoft, Mixpanel, Mozilla, Netflix, Nuna, Open Medical, Opendoor, Opentable, Optimizely, Patreon, Pivotal, Plaid, Pocket, Quora, Reddit, Remind, Samsara, SAP, Scale, Shopify, Stitchfix, Strava, Sunrun, Uber, Udacity, Yelp, and more.

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


A transformative, 1-day Co Leadership experience for engineers, tech leads, managers, product managers, and others in tech.

Thursday, February 27th, 2020 - 9:30AM - 5:00PM in San Francisco

Attending on your own?

$1,249 per attendee

Get a $150 early bird discount until Jan 24th

Reserve my spot

Attending with your team?

$1,099 per attendee for 2+ groups

Get a $100 early bird discount until Jan 24th

Reserve my spot

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

Frequently Asked Questions

Is this right for me?

What if I'm just an individual contributor, and not in an explicit leadership role yet?

Even as an individual contributor, you're still working as part of a team, organization, or shared mission. And anytime you notice a gap of something that could be better, there is an opportunity to take initiative and to lead.

You learn leadership by leading, even when it's informal and without authority. In fact, most companies look for people who are already performing at the next level when it comes time for performance reviews and promotions. This leadership experience will give you the foundations to accelerate the growth of your leadership skills.

What if I really want to go but don't have a friend to go with?

We know it can be scary to ask someone to attend the leadership experience with you. Being courageous in situations that are slightly uncomfortable is a valuable leadership skill. A good approach can be to say, “I'm excited about attending this Co Leadership experience, and I would love to share it with you.”

Why can't I just read a book?

Do both! There are many great communication and leadership books out there — we've read lots — and they are useful for wrapping your head around how something should work theoretically. But we're sure you also remember reading books, thinking “This sounds useful,” only to never use the material again.

We focus on creating experiential programs 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'm in a unique situation and environment?

We've coached 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 know it's the right time?

You've read through all the details of the leadership experience, and you know yourself and your situation best. Leadership can be scary, and the fear just comes from working on things you care about and people who are important to you. If your hesitation is because it is truly not the right time, we'll see you at a future event. If it feels like it's more a fear of stepping up to ask for what you want, we hope you find the courage to ask, and that we'll see you there.

How can I get support?

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 IC, but when she asked her manager, he just said, “Of course! Sign up right away.”

Aren't there cheaper trainings?

That's true! But your time is valuable. Why not attend the leadership experience that makes the best use of your time? We are trained leadership coaches, and we each have extensive experience being on and leading product and engineering teams.

What if I don't have the time to take a full day off work?

One hard lesson we've learned is that if you keep doing the things you're doing, the best outcome is that you'll just get better at doing those same things. To truly accelerate your growth, you need to break out of your default pattern and invest in an immersive experience that shifts you into a different trajectory. We've designed our leadership experience to provide a step function in your growth.

Logistics

What does it mean for this to be experiential?

It means that you'll be actively engaged and participating to really deepen the learning. This is not going to be a passive seminar where you're sitting back.

Why is it highly encouraged to sign up with a friend?

You'll get more out of each exercise working through real issues that you're already facing, and the shared context provies material that you can work with.

What if I have other obligations during the day?

We'll have bathroom breaks and a lunch break where you can check your phone if you really need to. But out of respect for other participants, the rest of the day is a phone-free and laptop-free experience.

What if something comes up last-minute and I can't attend?

We'll be sad not to see you there, but you can give your ticket to another friend.

What if I can't make it to this one, but am interested in future leadership experiences or courses?

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