From Fact-Giver to Opinion Leader

4 Jun, 2024


As an engineering lead, you hold a crucial role in guiding your team not just with technical expertise, but with clear and actionable opinions that shape the direction of your projects. However, many engineering leaders struggle to transition from providing pure technical facts to articulating strong, opinionated guidance on how these facts should be applied in practice. This transformation is essential for leading a high-performing team and ensuring the success of your projects.

Understanding the Importance of Opinionated Leadership

While sharing factual knowledge about frameworks, best practices, and methodologies is important, it’s equally crucial to tailor these insights to the specific needs and goals of your team and projects. Here’s why opinionated leadership is so valuable:

  1. Consistency and Clarity: When you express clear opinions about how specific methodologies should be implemented, you provide a consistent framework for your team to follow. This reduces ambiguity and ensures everyone is on the same page.

  2. Empowerment and Ownership: Opinionated leadership empowers your team members to make decisions aligned with your vision. It fosters a sense of ownership and accountability as they understand the rationale behind the chosen approaches.

  3. Efficiency and Focus: Clear guidance on preferred practices and methodologies can streamline development processes, reduce indecision, and help the team focus on delivering high-quality results.

Strategies for Developing and Expressing Your Opinions

  1. Deepen Your Understanding: Begin by thoroughly understanding the methodologies and best practices you advocate. For example, if you prefer the Model-View-ViewModel (MVVM) architecture, know its strengths, weaknesses, and suitable use cases.

  2. Reflect on Your Experiences: Draw from your own experiences and lessons learned. What has worked well in past projects? What challenges have you faced? Use these insights to form opinions on how certain practices should be adapted for your current team and projects.

  3. Engage with Your Team: Foster open communication with your team to understand their perspectives and challenges. Use this feedback to refine your opinions and ensure they are practical and effective in your specific context.

  4. Be Clear and Decisive: When sharing your opinions, be clear and decisive. For instance, instead of saying, “MVVM is a good pattern,” say, “In our app, we will use MVVM with a strong emphasis on data-binding and separation of concerns to ensure testability and maintainability.”

  5. Provide Context and Justification: Explain the reasoning behind your opinions. This helps your team understand the ‘why’ and not just the ‘what’. For example, “We will use dependency injection in our MVVM setup to enhance modularity and ease of testing.”

  6. Be Open to Adaptation: While having strong opinions is important, remain open to feedback and willing to adapt your approach based on new information or evolving project needs.

Practical Example: Implementing MVVM

To illustrate the difference, let’s consider how you might guide your team in implementing MVVM:

Fact-Based Approach:

  • “MVVM stands for Model-View-ViewModel. The ViewModel handles the presentation logic, while the View displays the data.”

Opinion-Based Approach:

  • “In our application, we will adopt MVVM with a clear separation between the View and ViewModel. I want us to use data-binding to keep the ViewModel unaware of the View. Additionally, we will incorporate LiveData for reactive data handling, ensuring our UI components react to changes seamlessly. This approach will enhance our app’s maintainability and testability, allowing us to scale features more efficiently.”

By transforming your communication from merely stating facts to expressing well-thought-out opinions, you not only provide direction but also instill confidence and clarity within your team. As an engineering leader, your ability to articulate and implement these opinions will play a pivotal role in your team’s success and the quality of your projects.


Transitioning from a fact-giver to an opinion leader is a vital step for engineering leads aiming to drive their teams effectively. By providing clear, opinionated guidance tailored to your specific context, you can enhance consistency, empower your team, and streamline processes. Remember, your unique insights and experiences are invaluable—use them to shape the way your team approaches and implements technical methodologies, leading to greater success and innovation in your projects.​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​