Introduction to management through leadership, to my blog and To Me.


Disclaimer: This is not another leadership blog.

This blog is my attempt to:

  • Introduce the concept of “Management Through Leadership”.
  • Help new managers understand their new job, role, and responsibility.
  • Help existing managers reflect on their current role and take it to the next level.
  • Emphasize the extremely important role managers play in helping employees have successful and fulfilling careers, helping companies deliver successful products, and finally redefining and reevaluating the 9-to-5 line of work.


My name is Joe Khoury; I’ve been working in the software engineering field for about 20 years. After a bachelor’s in Computer Science, I started my career as a web developer in Lebanon. In 2006 I migrated to the US to join a Master’s program. Long story short, I worked as a software engineer for 15 years, loving every minute of it. But I never enjoyed my job as much as these last five years when I became a people manager and technology leader. I started this career because I loved technology, I now love my career because of the people. I also learned that I should be a people leader and technology manager. More on that later 🙂

I hope my journey helps new middle managers who used to do the work and now are expected to be responsible for the people doing the work. Sometimes that transition from individual contributor to leading people can be a daunting task; especially as the training for such positions can be too abstract, lacking, or non-existent.

I also think that the lessons in this blog will help existing managers and even individual contributors reflect on their careers and make the best out of them.

My Current role

Over the last few years, I was tasked with leading a project where many of the people on the team did not report to me directly. For many reasons, it was an exciting challenge: I had no control over the regular incentives to motivate them (salaries, promotions, reporting structure…). They came from different parts of the company, having their own culture, performance evaluation processes, expectations from their managers, and their managers’ expectations from them.

Suddenly, I was responsible for a team of people, when I was not familiar with their personalities or technical strengths and weaknesses. Now I had to trust them to do the work that I usually do myself.

In addition, due to the nature of the larger project that we were a part of, it was only going to be successful if the different groups involved were able to communicate, collaborate, solve problems and execute constantly; Together. Based on the feedback, our team played a major role in facilitating cross-team and cross-functional conversations. We were able to work really well together which led to amazing results. We were able to get everyone excited and focused on the project while making progress and adding value to the customers’ experience.

The first-hand experience of taking on this project helped me answer the following question:

what is the role of a middle manager?

I had never run a cross-team project like this before, and to be honest, I was very nervous in the beginning.

I kept asking myself: How can I make them do what I need them to do? Why would they listen to me? How and why would they trust me? I soon learned that it’s not the job description of an Engineering Manager, or any manager for that matter, to make people do what we need them to do. Instead, it’s our responsibility to create the right relationships, environment, processes, and culture where the people we are responsible for can feel: 

  • Safely heard & can be themselves
  • Productive
  • Appreciated
  • Fulfilled and happy to be part of a real team
  • Innovative
  • Challenged to reach new limits and keep growing
  • Supported by their manager
  • Trusted to do their jobs!

Regarding trust, it turned out the best way to get someone to trust you is for you to trust them first. More on that in future posts.

In the end, they will also have your back by taking care of themselves, the team, the projects, the customer, and eventually the company.

There’s more to it: Middle managers need to put people first, but then projects, productivity, and innovation are right next to it. I’ve seen it many times where managers often focus on leading the projects and tasks more than leading the people on their team because this is what they are used to doing before being promoted. 

Great middle managers can find the balance. Great managers manage projects and lead people.

Basically, we need to manage everything BUT the people.

What is management through leadership?

I’ve read many guides on leadership, and as helpful as they are, I believe these concepts alone can be too vague and abstract to help newly promoted managers fulfill their roles.

At the same time, without these leadership concepts, managers tend to pick up a `”micro-management” style because they are more comfortable doing the work; that’s why they got promoted in the first place.

Management Through Leadership is a style of management where you can influence a great outcome without controlling every aspect of the journey.

As a manager through leadership, you need to divide your focus into these 4 areas:

  • People
  • Product/Service
  • Process & Productivity
  • Innovation

People” is listed first for a reason!

My Principles for Management through leadership

These focus areas can be broken down into the following principles:

Principle 1: Manage Through Leadership
Principle 2: Build a Culture of Trust, Safety & Collaboration
Principle 3: Be Brave for Your Team
Principle 4: Grow your team’s careers
Principle 5: Improve your Personal Foundation
Principle 6: Communication is the Secret Sauce
Principle 7: Build a Synergistic Team

Here are some of the tactics & concepts I will cover throughout this blogging journey to help expand on and execute these principles:

  • How to create a safe, collaborative & productive environment and culture
  • How to Increase innovation
  • How to foster collaboration
  • How to build relationships
  • How to manage through leadership
  • How to help your team grow their careers
  • How to create a team vision & philosophy
  • How to be a brave leader and middle manager
  • How to do check-ins
  • How to increase your meeting skills
  • How to manage conflicts
  • How to have the hard conversations
  • How to give and receive feedback
  • How to manage up and down and sideways


My hypothesis:

  • Managers play a massive role in influencing how fulfilling and successful people’s careers can be.
  • Managers play an equally massive role in influencing the quality of the products and services that companies release and provide.
  • Managers can redefine the 9 to 5 and change the perception that only entrepreneurs can have rewarding and fulfilling careers.

If you are a manager, I hope you understand the importance of your role.

We can prove this hypothesis by focusing on 4 areas:

  • People
  • Product/Service
  • Process & Productivity
  • Innovation

These 7 principles will help you execute on these focus areas:

Principle 1: Manage Through Leadership
Principle 2: Build a Culture of Trust, Safety & Collaboration
Principle 3: Be Brave for Your Team
Principle 4: Grow your team’s careers
Principle 5: Improve your Personal Foundation
Principle 6: Communication is the Secret Sauce
Principle 7: Build a Synergistic Team

Thank you so much for reading! Please share your thoughts or advice on this topic in the comments section below; we can all learn from each other.

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By Joe Khoury