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Empowering Autonomous Managers in Engineering: A CTO's Balancing Act

In the intricate realm of Engineering leadership, steering the ship towards autonomy while maintaining an open channel of communication as a CTO can be likened to a finely choreographed dance. In this post, we'll dive into the art of cultivating autonomous managers while addressing the intricacies of maintaining accessibility, delving into the rewards and potential pitfalls that lie therein.

Navigating the Path to Autonomy:

  1. Clarify Objectives: Provide a clear roadmap to success. Managers should understand the organization's vision and their role in achieving it.

  2. Delegate Authority: Empower managers to make decisions within their areas of expertise. Let them take the reins and guide their teams towards success.

  3. Encourage Collaboration: Foster a culture of teamwork and knowledge-sharing. Encourage managers to collaborate with peers to solve challenges collectively.

Risks and Rewards of Accessibility:


  1. Trust and Support: An open-door policy showcases your commitment to the team's success. Managers feel supported and trust your guidance.

  2. Quick Solutions: Accessibility accelerates decision-making and problem-solving, especially for critical issues that require immediate attention.

  3. Mentorship and Learning: Managers can seek advice and learn from your experiences, fostering professional growth and development.


  1. Micromanagement: Excessive accessibility might inadvertently stifle managers' creativity and autonomy, breeding dependency.

  2. Delayed Decision-Making: While input is valuable, involving you in every decision could slow down the decision-making process.

  3. Missed Learning Opportunities: Managers may rely on your guidance instead of honing their problem-solving skills.

Navigating the Balance:

  1. Boundaries: Set expectations for when and how managers should approach you for guidance. Ensure it aligns with the autonomy you're fostering.

  2. Encourage Independence: Empower managers to explore solutions independently before seeking input. This reinforces their decision-making abilities.

  3. Create a Supportive Environment: Foster an atmosphere where managers feel comfortable discussing challenges and solutions without fear of retribution.

Balancing accessibility and autonomy is a delicate art. Encouraging managers to take calculated risks, make decisions, and learn from their experiences while having your support as a safety net is key. Your role is to be a mentor and guide, not the sole decision-maker. Embrace the dynamic, celebrate successes, and learn from challenges to nurture a team of autonomous, empowered leaders.