June 14, 2019
Hi, I’m Xavier (I go by X). I was born in France and, after visiting pretty much every corner of the Hexagon and starting an electrical engineering degree in Paris, I went on to complete my Master of Science in Computer Science in England at the Staffordshire University.
I came to the United States a dozen years ago and been sucked up into the energetic New York grind ever since. I started my journey as a front-end contributor on a white label day trading platform and worked my way through several start-ups using technologies I usually learned on the spot and during my spare time. As a result, the pragmatism I developed makes me value the craftsmanship required to put together maintainable and scalable systems.
Over the years, I learned a lot about myself and what my work style is. Hopefully, this guide helps you figuring me out and optimize our collaboration. Happy reading!
I am a straight shooter. I probably inherited this bluntness from my ancestors as French people seem to possess the ability to be (hyper) critical and to call things out the way they see them. This radical honesty is critical to maintaining my integrity and is never intended to be interpreted as a personal attack. Acknowledging our mistakes is the first steps to understand the causes and learn from them so we may avoid running into that obstacle again.
I expect the same bluntness from others. In the book Extreme Ownership, Jocko Willink explains that, despite our best assets, we are all humans and prone to failure. Great strengths come along with blindsides that can hinder performances, and enabling your collaborators to keep you accountable allow them to be on the lookout for the errors you will eventually commit.
For these reasons, I welcome people challenging my opinions as this is the best way we can quickly get to compare ideas and come up with a better plan. I do not care how things get done as much as I care about things getting done.
As an engineering team manager, I welcome all avenues for feedback and exchange. I understand that people with different mindsets and personalities will communicate differently. I will try to figure out what works best with you and will help the group work together as a whole.
Instant communication such as Slack and private conversation are usually appropriate to share instant needs for tie-breaking decision and sorting priorities on the spot. However, I encourage people to put together their thoughts within a more extended form (emails, wiki documentation, whitepapers, slideshows, presentations) when the subject matter requires a calmer mindset so all can understand the full picture.
For meetings, I prefer the agenda and the expected outcome to be set forth ahead of time so that everyone can come prepared with the context in mind. Despite this preparation, if you feel that you need time, it is ok to push back and propose a better timeline.
Let’s start with the easy one: I do not expect you to know everything about everything. I consider all team member as infinitely intelligent individuals without a full understanding of our tech stack or feature list. I encourage you to consider doing the same as it will help you always to provide the proper context and define clear expectation ahead of a discussion so that everyone has the opportunity to weigh in before making decisions.
Regardless of your level, here are the things I believe are good traits of character to succeed in any team:
The integrity of the team is a direct result of the sum of the integrity of the individuals that constitute it. Leadership does not consist in the few people up the chain telling others down the chain what to do and how to do it. Leadership is the ability for everyone within a group to trust one another in their ability to:
As a consequence, I expect the team to decide what are the values it represents. I then hope these values to be sustained and demonstrated in the way the team sets goals for itself, commits and hold itself accountable to its goals. Celebrating the wins and analyze the losses and guarantee the integrity of the group.
Amongst other things, what I value most is:
I am a big fan of the Radical Candor framework when it comes to management style, and I want to encourage you to read the excerpt around feedback.
That said, I have no preference regarding the feedback I expect to get from you. I want you to feel comfortable sharing with me as you see fit (Slack, email, 1-1).
However, here are a few things I would like to encourage you to think about when providing/soliciting feedback:
I tend to be very intense and very focused when I am working. I ask many questions until I am sure I understand things entirely regardless of how it might make me look. I found out that when I do not complete that due diligence and start assuming things, it leads to poor decision making that have adverse side effects that we can avoid.
On the other hand, this tends to exacerbate some negative traits of mine and shut down people uneasy with a direct challenge. I will attempt to provide as much context as possible to help you understand my point of view and comprehend the solution I am proposing.
Do not hesitate to challenge me! Even when I am passionate, I am always ready to reconsider my point of view by a sound counter-argument.
Some of the points mentioned above still hold in this context. The way I intend to work with the group is by making sure we follow the “Listen, Challenge, Commit” rule:
Here are a few things I enjoy, in no particular order:
I hope this document has provided enough insights about me to help you understand better how we can work together.
I know we are all humans and that, despite my best intentions, I might make choices that compromise my values and those of the team. In such event, I count on you to hold me accountable and give me a chance to restore my integrity and amend this document accordingly.
Written by Xavier Lozinguez who lives and works in New Jersey (sometimes) building useful things. You should follow him on Twitter