The “Brilliant Jerk” Problem
I once worked with someone who was celebrated as the best engineer on a team because of their exceptional coding abilities. But soon things went down for the team because of their bad behavior! This person had no soft skills and absolutely did not respect their peers! Their pride went over the roof, bringing down the morale of everyone around them!
They acted like they had control over the entire team’s codebase, and the company cannot operate without them. This is a classic “brilliant jerk” in tech!
If there is one thing that I have learned with several years of being in tech, it is that no one is indispensable to a company! You are absolutely replaceable!
The recent tech layoffs is a good reminder to that.
I would rather work with 10 software developers with average coding ability, who are modest, and willing to learn, than 1 brilliant jerk who puts people down because he/she is really good at something!
Brilliant jerks bring down the morale of others on the team and can create a very toxic work environment.
Coding is a hard skill and being a great coder is very important in your journey as a software engineer, but exceptional coding ability does not give one the leverage for bad behaviors!
Who is the true 10x Engineer?
The best architects and engineers that I have worked with who were truly exceptional and 10x had these qualities:
Coding and Architectural Skills
10x engineers are great at coding and architectural skills. They know the right tools to use, and are extremely productive and fast!
Focus on Big Picture
They pay attention to architectural decisions and long term impacts on products with the big picture in mind. They do not look for shortcuts and are always thinking ahead.