Software Engineer Promotions

This morning, my dad and I were talking about the mental shift engineers have to go through as they go through promotions. He shared a military analogy that I thought was helpful.

At the junior software engineer level, the manager sets the goal by saying, “We're going to take the hill; follow us.” A junior engineer needs assistance on tasks, and the team helps guide them through their daily tasks.

As a full-fledged software engineer, their role grows. Their managers tell them, “You're part of the team that's going to take this hill.” They're able to contribute to the team's objectives.

For senior software engineers, managers point at hills and ask how they can be taken. Senior engineers should be able to develop plans based on assigned goals and then see those plans through.

Lead software engineers have an even bigger shift in responsibilities. They proactively approach their managers with suggestions about which projects should be tackled. They present detailed plans and lead the team through successful execution.

Engineering managers actively work to turn those around them from followers into leaders. They ensure that projects are in line with larger objectives and work towards effective communication.

I found this analogy helpful, as it highlights what engineers need to focus on at each level to be successful.

signature farmer

If you like this, subscribe below to get updates via email or follow me on LinkedIn. You can also get hold of me at I'd love to chat!