Anti-patterns of an Engineering Manager

There are several anti-patterns that we exhibit as leaders. Being a manager or a leader, in general, can be tricky to manage.

Depending on your personality type and experience, you can fall into 7 anti-patterns that will have a negative impact on your team. It’s important to recognize those and course correct.

By recognizing these common managerial mistakes and working to avoid them, managers can foster a more effective, trusting, and successful work environment.

This video from Rod Begbie does a great job of describing the anti-patterns. I want you to watch this video from Rod to learn these.

This lesson is taken from Developer to Leader program. If you are interested, add yourself to the waitlist.

Let’s review the Anti-patterns:

👥 The Cloner

Avoid trying to mold your team members into versions of yourself, as this can limit their growth. Instead, understand their individual strengths, preferences, and ways of learning to help them develop in their own unique ways.

🎖 The Decider

Resist the temptation to make all decisions for your team, as this can disempower them and hinder their growth.

Delegate responsibility and trust your team members to make their own decisions, even if they might do things differently than you would. Allow team members to come up with their own solutions to problems, even if they don't align with your own ideas. This encourages creativity and innovation and can lead to better overall results.

Some decisions will be yours, but try to involve the team to strengthen their decision-making muscle, and to scale the organization.

🧸 The Buddy

While it's important to maintain good relationships with your team, avoid prioritizing your personal friendships over giving constructive feedback. Providing honest feedback is essential for growth and improvement, and withholding it can damage trust within the team.

😡 The Asshole

As a manager, it's crucial to maintain a professional relationship with your team members. While being friendly and approachable is important, you should avoid crossing the boundary into personal friendships. This helps to maintain your authority and ensure that your team respects your decisions. Striking a balance between being approachable and professional is key to effective management.

🃏 The Joker

The need to be cautious with humour, as jokes may carry more weight and have unintended consequences as a manager. Humour can be a great way to build rapport and ease tension within a team, but as a manager, you need to exercise caution with your jokes. Joking about sensitive topics or making sarcastic remarks can be misinterpreted, leading to a negative impact on team morale and dynamics. It's essential to be mindful of the power dynamics in your position and avoid making jokes that could be seen as disrespectful or harmful.

🐺😢 The Wolf-Cryer

As a manager, it's essential to address problems and concerns raised by your team members. However, it's also important to verify the legitimacy of these issues before escalating them. Taking time to investigate and gather more information can help you determine the best course of action to address the problem. This approach not only helps you avoid overreacting but also demonstrates to your team that you value their input and are committed to addressing their concerns.

💩 ☔ The Shit-Umbrella

The value of filtering out irrelevant information while allowing your team to engage with the right amount of uncertainty to drive better decision-making. There are some organizational dramas, some customers are complaining, you had a system outage, etc. Your gut tells you to shield your teammates from all this agitation, you want to keep them safe from any distraction.

Filtering information for your team involves striking a balance between protecting them from unnecessary distractions and providing them with enough information to make informed decisions.

No one can learn from problems without knowing about them. No one can make a good decision without having access to the relevant information. The team is living in a bubble. You should balance it out, by sharing and explaining important problems to allow the team to learn and adapt.


Identify what kind of emoji you are when you are self-reflecting on Mondays. Awareness is the first step.

Being aware they exist and knowing their impact will help to reassess your behaviour.


📺 Discover more anti-patterns like the asshole, the joker, the wolf-cryer, etc by watching the talk of Rod Begbie, Engineering Manager at DropBox.

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