Engineering Leadership Compass

orient yourself to the roles you'll play

This Compass is a tool to help you navigate the breadth of responsibilities that Software Engineering Leaders are expected to tackle, the roles you'll take on to tackle them, and the skills and behavioral traits you should develop to be effective.

Interact with the Compass to filter and explore these Product, People, and Process-focused roles that all exist to Build the Machine that Builds the Product.





Engineering Leadership Responsibilities


  • Deliver software.
  • Balance features and fixes.
  • Inspire engineers to build the product.
  • Inspire users to champion the product.


  • Attract, retain, and grow talent.
  • Structure and organize the team.
  • Motivate and inspire the team.


  • Deliver on time.
  • Deliver on budget.
  • Deliver with quality.
  • Keep all stakeholders well-informed.

Engineering Leadership Roles

To help tackle the above 11 responsibilities, you may be required to inhabit one or more of the following roles. Expand each one for details.


Product-Centric Role

Writes, tests, and debugs code for software applications. They are responsible for turning the product manager's vision and the architect's design into functional software.

Product Manager + Owner

Product-Centric Role

Guides the development of a product, working with designers, developers, and other stakeholders to make strategic decisions about what features to build, when to build them, and how they should function.


Product-Centric Role

Creates the visual elements of a software application, like the user interface. They are typically responsible for creating a great user experience by making software easy, efficient, and enjoyable to use.


Product-Centric Role

Develops and maintains the high-level design plan for the overall logical and technical IT architecture. They provide leadership and guidance to the development team to build systems according to the set framework.

Technical Lead

Product-Centric Role

Guides the technical direction of a team or project. This typically involves designing technical solutions, writing code, reviewing others' code, debugging, and collaborating with other stakeholders like product managers and designers.


Product / People-Centric Role

Promotes a product, technology, or platform with the goal of increasing its adoption. This often involves speaking at conferences, writing blog posts, and networking with potential users or customers.

People Manager

People-Centric Role

Manages a team of employees, handling tasks like performance reviews, conflict resolution, and career development.

Technical Trainer

People-Centric Role

Educates others about a particular technology or software application. This might involve conducting workshops, creating educational materials, or one-on-one coaching.


People-Centric Role

Offers advice and guidance to less experienced individuals, helping them grow professionally. They might provide insights about technical problems, career development, or workplace challenges.

Recruiter + Hiring Manager

People / Process-Centric Role

Finds, interviews, and hires new employees. They are responsible for assessing candidates' skills and cultural fit, and convincing the best candidates to join the company.

Project Manager

Process-Centric Role

Oversees the completion of a project, making sure it is finished on time, within budget, and to the stakeholders' satisfaction. They plan the project, coordinate the team, and manage any issues that arise.

Process Improvement Manager

Process-Centric Role

Analyzes existing processes to identify areas for improvement, then develops and implements solutions. They strive to make processes more efficient, effective, and flexible.

Delivery Lead

Product / Process-Centric Role

Focuses on ensuring that the team is able to work as efficiently as possible. Eliminates blockers, manages stakeholders, and coordinates with other teams or departments. They are also often responsible for ensuring that the products are delivered on time, within budget, and to the agreed quality.

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