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Respect People, Not Titles

2021-05-12 — Michael Haupt

Here is a good collection of "non-technical skills every developer needs". I'd like to expand a bit on no. 5, "respect people, not titles".

You can come right out of university, co-found a startup, and have a title like CTO, CEO, VP, ... in a company of 20. You can also work in an industry for decades, and eventually arrive at a title like CTO, CEO, VP, ... at a company of 20,000. The titles mean very different things in both cases as far as experience is concerned. They mean rather similar things, however, in terms of what you're responsible for.

That's the deal. The title describes a responsibility and implies what you're accountable for. And that is true for titles like "Engineer" or "Senior Engineer" as well. All these titles describe a role, they describe what expectations you're typically going to face. Nothing more. Specifically, a "grander" title doesn't mean the person holding it is a better or worse person per se.

No one should assume people holding "grander" titles automatically talk from a position of power. When your manager, CTO, CEO uses the app your company sells and finds and reports a bug, that doesn't mean this bug deserves special and immediate attention just because of who raised it. It's a bug, and needs to be analysed and prioritised just like any other bug.

If anything, "grander" titles should come with more humility, and a sense of serving a greater scope - and, often, a larger group of people.

Tags: work