As a Staff+ engineer, when do you step in?
As a Staff+ engineer that opens up opportunities for Senior+ engineers to lead, it can be hard to know when to step in (ideally without stepping on toes) versus letting folks fail.
I imagine managers, in the context of situational leadership, have the same challenge: knowing when to move someone from delegating (where you’re hands off) to another phase (where you step in to coach or dig into the solution space).
Hat tip to my manager for a great heuristic: when there’s talk of moving deadlines, step in. I agree, particularly when slippage is due to confusion/chaos or a lack of clarity in what we’re trying to solve. There’s usually a cascading effect to moving deadlines (moving one team’s deadline moves another team’s deadline), especially in high coordination projects.
When you’ve established clarity, one approach to rebalance the consequences of you stepping in, is to restore accountability back to the person you delegated to by leaning on them to drive the next steps. Do that quickly, or you risk the effort becoming more dependent on you and existing leaders being resentful.