Foundations of Effective Tech Leadership

Thursday, Oct 10th - Friday, Oct 11th, 2019 10AM - 5PM | San Francisco
A transformative, 2-day Co Leadership experience for new and experienced tech leads.

Foundations of Effective Tech Leadership

10/10/2019 - 10/11/2019 in San Francisco
10/10/2019 - 10/11/2019 in SF

Congratulations, you're a tech lead! You're on your own. Now go do it!

You have all the responsibility and accountability, but none of the authority.

How can you set yourself up for success in this ambiguous role?

How do you strike the right balance between doing things on your own and delegating to others?

How do you deliver results reliably and make sure your team's contributions are celebrated and recognized?

And how do you do all that — while still keeping your team happy and productive?

Show me how

— Introducing —

Foundations of Effective Tech Leadership

A 2-day, immersive leadership experience in San Francisco

With Edmond Lau and Jean Hsu

Thursday, Oct 10th - Friday, Oct 11th, 2019 in San Francisco

A foundational leadership course for new and experienced tech leads. Learn how to set yourself up for success, deliver results that matter, communicate for team success, and build a happy and productive team.

“As a tech lead, I have struggled with deciding what to spend my time on. I have often felt that every minute not spent writing or reviewing code is an inappropriate use of time. I have tried to make sure that my plans are as perfect as possible before sharing them to reduce the amount of feedback. This often backfired.

The leadership program has helped me to reach clarity on my role. I realized that I can bring more value to my team by focusing my energy on what I’m good at; for example, setting and communicating strategy. It also helped me to realize the value of understanding and acknowledging what is important to other people before creating a plan.”

Taylor McIntyre - Tech Lead at Dropbox

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.

The first time I was a tech lead, I felt excited and important to be officially recognized as the de facto expert on my team, but also nervous. I had never been responsible for other people's work before.

I thought my manager would prepare me in some way, maybe with some mentoring or training. But everyone was so busy that all I got was vague advice like “be the sh*t umbrella” or “communicate clearly with your team.”

I didn't know how to motivate people to do what I thought was important — and I would often end up just doing everything myself, working alone late into the night.

I didn't know how to effectively split my time between coding, reviewing code, coordinating the team, managing projects, and putting out fires — and so I just kept trying to juggle everything, all while feeling disappointed and frustrated at my low productivity.

I didn't even know what success looked like. My company still evaluated me on my technical contributions, so where did the health and happiness of the team fit in?

I struggled on my own, and the team suffered as a result.

We slipped on deadlines that we'd promised to execs or customers — or pulled late nights until 2am trying to hit them.

We built up more and more technical debt as we shipped features — and we'd feel the ongoing frustration of working with code that we knew could be cleaner, if only we could make time for refactoring efforts.

We littered the codebase with works-in-progress that never shipped — or found ourselves undoing work for changing requirements that I failed to nail down.

I felt like I was just barely keeping everything together with duct tape — that things would break down at any moment.

And sometimes they did.

We'd lose people on the team — as they burned out or gave up or decided that a team at another company would be a better place to work.

We'd spend months on features that failed to have the impact we wanted, valuable months that could've been spent on critical technical investments — resulting in low morale and motivation.

It took many years of trial and error, learning things the hard way, trying to do it all on my own, and then connecting and sharing stories with other tech leads around Silicon Valley before I finally realized a hard truth.

Sure, it's true that some lessons are best learned through experience.

But just a few foundational tools and high-leverage frameworks would've made a significant difference — I could've set myself up for success as a tech lead much earlier.

And now, my co-founder Jean Hsu and I are excited to share those tools and frameworks with you.

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

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.

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.

We bring decades of experience building high-growth teams at companies including:

We've always known that we would design and run an experience specifically for tech leads. The tech lead role, as ambiguous and varied as it is, is near and dear to both of our hearts — or perhaps it's because the role is so ambiguous and varied.

It is one of the most impactful roles on engineering teams. It's the role that gets things done and delivers results. It's the role that turns a group of engineers into a team. It's the role that levels up junior engineers and raises the entire engineering team's capacity.

And yet, because engineers stepping into tech lead roles are almost always strong engineers, there's a misconception that they actually don't need as much support as they navigate an almost completely different role.

Engineers moving into tech lead roles often struggle to still live up to former expectations of delivering as a senior individual contributor, as they also take on mentoring and coordination. In reality, that transition is when support is most high-leverage.

That's because even though everyone's situation might be unique, the challenges faced by tech leads are quite similar:

You have all the responsibility and accountability, and none of the authority.

What if you had clarity and confidence around your tech lead role? What if you felt empowered to define what success looked like and had the tools to make that success a reality?

“Going through the Co Leadership training with my coworkers was a powerful experience. We make up so many stories constantly about each other and operate based on those assumptions and stories without questioning them. The program helped to direct the dialog toward clearing any assumptions and misunderstandings rather than getting people's guards up to defend their actions. By the end of the program, 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

“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

Imagine — you're at a project retrospective, and the team is beaming. People feel challenged and stretched but not burnt out, proud to ship high-quality work they could stand behind, happy to be part of a team with visible impact on the company.

The process, status updates, tracking, communication — everything felt just right. Not too light to be useful, and not overly cumbersome.

It wasn't easy at times, but you always knew that you could handle the changes and challenges that emerged. When product plans changed halfway into a sprint, you communicated clearly both upwards and to your team — and people trusted and respected you for how you handled those situations. When someone went down a rabbit hole, you swiftly steered them back on course — and people appreciated how kindly provided feedback and protected the team's time.

You guided the team to make smart technical decisions, constantly navigating healthy and sustainable tradeoffs between the short-term and long-term. You stepped gracefully between helping out with specific tasks and giving enough autonomy to your teammates so they felt trusted and empowered — it's clear to you that your real impact was being able to effectively align a team of engineers behind a shared goal.

You feel so good about how you led the team to deliver results.

In the company all-hands, your team is called out for its excellent execution, teamwork, cross-team collaboration, and impact.

But it's not just execution that you're proud of — you're also growing your team.

Junior engineers on the team thrive under your mentorship — they used to need hand-holding for small tasks, and now they are implementing larger chunks of work autonomously. More senior engineers appreciate your role as a sounding board when they're stuck, even when you don't have expertise in their areas. The product manager and designer appreciate your clear communication.

Your teammate even says to you,

“If you ever switch teams, I'll follow you.”

And for yourself, you're getting what you want out of your time as a tech lead — clarity for yourself on what's next for you in your engineering career. Maybe it's being an engineering manager or staff engineer or architect or CTO. You're taking this opportunity to explore what you enjoy and gain new skills for what's next.

“I liked how the workshop helped me understand how to be more direct and transparent about communication. Sometimes once you hear the advice you think 'wow of course, that was obvious.' These things always feel much more difficult in the moment though and it really helps to have a framework for thinking about effective communication.

The workshop gave me some new perspective and I've already used aspects of what we talked about to improve some of my relationships with coworkers. I'd recommend that to anyone.”

Danielle Man - Engineering Manager at Apollo GraphQL

“Our engineering team invited Jean and Edmond to run a half-day leadership experience at our offsite, and we had a very positive experience. They helped us learn some of the basics of leadership and made everyone more aware of communicating clearly and also discovering the needs and priorities of other team members. We're a highly distributed team and sometimes echo chambers form in some of the regions. We learned how to create alliances across the ocean and listen better to each other, especially when collaborating from far away. The fact that Jean and Edmond are engineers themselves, helped tremendously keep the conversation real - no fluff, no theoretical gimmicks that sound interesting, but aren't necessarily applicable. We learned pure tooling that can be used by any engineer straight away.”

Vlad Ionescu - Founder and Chief Architect, ShiftLeft Inc.

This might seem inaccessible right now.

Maybe you've tried finding mentors — and perhaps you're lucky to have found one or two. You look at the people around you and try to emulate the people you admire, or just try to not make the same mistakes you see.

Maybe you've read a few books and blog posts, watched one-off TED talks and lectures on leadership, and listened to engineering leadership podcasts.

Maybe you have a small bag of tools that you're starting to practice.

But you're still wondering:

Am I doing a good job? When does this get easier?

And you don't know. It's hard to compare when your role and situation seem different from what you see around you.

There are so many new challenges and situations that arise, and you wish you had a blueprint to follow, to tell you, "This is how you do this. These are the things that you can try. This is what success means."

— Presenting —

Foundations of Effective Tech Leadership

A 2-day, immersive leadership experience in San Francisco

With Edmond Lau and Jean Hsu

Thursday, Oct 10th - Friday, Oct 11th, 2019 in San Francisco

A foundational leadership course for new and experienced tech leads. Learn how to set yourself up for success, deliver results that matter, communicate for team success, and build a happy and productive team.

As your co-leaders, we've experienced first-hand the challenges of being in a tech lead role, coached tech leads throughout the industry, and designed and led tech lead training for major tech companies. Now we're excited to bring this training directly to you.

We've distilled the most foundational mindsets and actionable frameworks required to be an effective tech lead into a two-day leadership experience. These include powerful tools that apply whether you're at a small startup or a big company, whether you're an aspiring tech lead or a senior technical leader.

Most importantly, you'll learn to lead, even when you don't have authority.

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

What You'll Learn:

  • Design with your manager and your team what success looks like — so that you always have a clear North Star to know whether you're doing a good job.
  • Learn the 8 foundational skills that every tech lead needs to effectively run any team or project — and get guidance on what strengths you have and what areas to invest in.
  • Get clarity around expectations for your role with your manager — so that you can make the most of the opportunity for growth, impact, and influence.
  • Design your work relationships as alliances — and get the support you need even if you're missing a product manager or an engineering manager.
  • Discover your own sweet spot — one that blends what you're strongest at, what you're most excited to work on, and what creates the biggest impact for your team — so that you create remarkable results.
  • How to clarify and make sure you get what you want out of your time as a tech lead, so that you're set up for whatever's next — whether that's becoming a manager, an architect, or even the founder of a company.

What You'll Learn:

  • Grow your capacity to delegate and ask for help — so that you're not falling back on old patterns and all the stress of doing things on your own.
  • How to balance being a technical advisor, a shield for your team, an individual contributor — so that your career progresses rather than gets stalled.
  • Learn how to manage your time effectively to handle competing priorities.
  • Stop spending all your time putting out fires — and invest in the long-term future you want to see.
  • Know when to zoom in and help with details and when to zoom out and think big picture.

What You'll Learn:

  • Get buy-in from other teams and company leadership for your team's work and know that your work matters to the company.
  • Receive the recognition and respect that your team deserves for the contributions it makes — because people understand how the work fits into higher-level goals.
  • Align your team behind clear priorities — so that you can trust that people are working towards a common goal without micro-managing or hand-holding.
  • Deliver features and projects in a way that builds trust with stakeholders and maximizes impact based on the information that everyone has.
  • How to manage up so that you get the clarity you need around strategy, staffing, and direction to lead your team effectively.

What You'll Learn:

  • Deliver feedback in a way that builds trust, improves performance, and provides opportunity for growth.
  • Learn how to grow the people around you — whether that's through coaching, technical guidance, mentoring, or sponsorship.
  • Bring people together who are excited and motivated to work on shared goals — rather than having people feel resentful or bored about needing to do what they're told.
  • Know when to give advice, when to listen, and how to offer the right level of freedom for people to figure things out on their own — so that people don't feel micro-managed and yet you're getting the results that you need.
  • Learn foundational coaching skills to help people solve their own problems.
  • How to align what people want to work on with what needs to get done, even if you're not their manager.

The event is highly experiential. You'll watch live demos of tools and frameworks and observe their impact. You'll get hands-on practice and feedback in a highly supportive learning environment. And you'll get deep-dive discussions of how to apply the tools and skills in real-world scenarios — even nuanced ones you face in your own work.

You'll leave feeling empowered and confident that even if you're faced with a new situation, you'll have a set of tools to communicate effectively and drive towards clarity, alignment, and impact.

Foundations of Effective Tech Leadership

A transformative, 2-day Co Leadership experience for new and experienced tech leads.

Co-led by Edmond Lau & Jean Hsu


For new and experienced tech leads.

When & Where

San Francisco: Thursday, Oct 10th - Friday, Oct 11th, 2019 - 10AM - 5PM


$2,497 per attendee
($2,997 after July 26th)

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

Previous Co Leadership Attendees Have Included People From:

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

As well as Apollo, Bart, Blue Apron, Chain, ClassPass, DoorDash, Dropbox, Elasticsearch, Facebook, Heroku, Instacart, Intercom, Lever, Lime, LinkedIn, Mailchimp, Mozilla, Nuna, Opendoor, Opentable, Optimizely, Patreon, Pivotal, Quora, Reddit, SAP, Scale, Shopify, Stitchfix, Strava, Sunrun, Uber, Udacity, Yelp, and more.

“Now, I get to the heart of why a team member prefers one solution or approach over another much more quickly, whether it's in the context of a technical, product, or organizational discussion. Conversations both flow better and feel better — you're learning more about each other and building relationships for the long run, not just simply solving the exact problem right in front of you.”

Kate Taggart - Engineering Manager at Hashicorp

“My biggest concern going into this workshop was that the material would end up being not practically applicable. The workshop did a great job of making sure that we were able to practice and get a feel for how to use different skills, and also gave enough time for discussion of how to apply them in real-life situations.

One of the biggest struggles I have in my workplace relationships is dealing with others who don't immediately see eye to eye with me. This workshop definitely showed me how to deal with those situations and gave me a good set of tools to use to build alignment.”

Chris Fung - Lead Software Engineer at Coupa

Frequently Asked Questions

Is this right for me?

What if I'm an aspiring or soon-to-be tech lead?

We would love to have you in this leadership training! Whether you're an experienced tech lead, a new tech lead, about to be a tech lead, or want to be a tech lead some day down the line, the tools you'll learn in this workshop will serve you well.

You learn leadership by leading, even when it's informal and without authority. This leadership experience will give you the foundations to accelerate the growth of your leadership skills.

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, especially for those in tech lead roles. 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 be a more effective tech lead and 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.”

If you're an aspiring tech lead, asking might look like: "One of my aspirations is to expand my impact here as a tech lead, and I'd like to take this course to set myself up for success."

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 each have extensive experience being on and tech leading engineering teams. Combined with our coaching experience, experience designing and leading tech lead training programs, and market research into the needs of tech lead across the industry, we make sure that the course is extremely relevant to you. Everything we teach is supported by stories and vocabulary you're already familiar with and contextualized in everyday work situations you'll encounter.

What if I don't have the time to take two full days 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 patterns 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.


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.

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.