The Founation chapter focuses on the transition from high performance individual contributor to effective manager.

The shift of identity

The HBR article, Who’s Got the Monkey? breaks down manager’s time to several buckets:

  • Boss-imposed time
  • System-imposed time
  • Self-imposed time

Every time, the subordinate requests the manager to make a decision, take an action; the monkey leaps from the suboridate’s back to the manager:

In accepting the monkey, the manager has voluntarily assumed a position subordinate to his subordinate.

It is called priority inversion in the embeded system.

As an more experienced engineer, we tend to address the problem immediately armed with better understanding, especialy the play manager in a small team. This behavior eats up the discretionary time, and leave more important things such coaching and team building unattended.

Furhter reading: Being the Boss by Linda Hill.

Growth mindset vs fixed mindset

The growth mindset consider we can improve our skills by efforts, listening to the feedback (10,000 Hour Rule by Malcolm Gladwell). We treat the setbacks as a wakeup call for reflection, and see the challenges as more opportunities to grow.

This also aligns to my personal experience. My manager left the company the second weeks since I joined as the #1 member of the team. It was quite a challenge to navigate the company without peers or manager, but I considered this might be an opportunity to build the relationship with the payment infrastrure team, and I found this experience is rewarding when I was transitioned as the manager.

SCARF model

The SCARF models is developed by Dr. David Rock in his paper SCARF: A Brain-Based Model for Collaborating With and Influencing Others.

  • Status: importance to others
  • Certainty: predictability
  • Autonomy: sense of control
  • Relatedness: How safe we feel with others
  • Fairness: perception of exchange between people

The five social domains activate the same threat and reward responses as the physical circumstances.


William Kahn’s engagement framework:

  • meaningfulness
  • safety: free to express self
  • availability: energy for engagement.

Also, I find the “X model of employee engagement” quite interesting:

Group Formation

Bruce Tuckman’s theory:

  • Forming
  • Storming
  • Norming
  • Peforming

Managing Changes

We don’t necessarily fear change. We fear loss.

As the manager usually senses the signal earlier than his/her direct reports, the manager MAY misinterpret subordinates’ response based on his/her own position.

Will vs. Skill

The manager will coach the subordinate depends on the Will vs. Skill quadrants:

Will vs. Skill diagram