Good Software Engineer vs Great Software Engineer

Software engineers are the backbone of modern product companies. Find out what separates the good from the great engineers.

Software engineers are the backbone of modern product companies. What differentiates a decent engineer from a great engineer? Let's compare 👉👉👉


Decent engineers think only of their own work. Great engineers think of the whole team's work (or company). They understand that their individual contributions are part of a larger ecosystem, and they align their efforts with the overarching goals and objectives of the team or organization. This big-picture perspective allows them to make decisions that benefit not just themselves, but the entire team and ultimately the company's success.


Decent engineers solve problems as they arise, often reacting to issues after they've occurred. Great engineers, on the other hand, anticipate potential problems and proactively work to prevent them from happening in the first place. They have a knack for identifying potential roadblocks or challenges before they manifest, allowing them to implement preemptive solutions and minimize disruptions to the workflow.


Decent engineers may struggle to find common ground with others, both inside and outside of their role. They may have difficulty effectively communicating their ideas or understanding the perspectives of their colleagues. In contrast, great engineers excel in communication by learning to put on various "hats" when collaborating with different teams or stakeholders. Whether it's donning their "business hat" to understand the commercial implications of their work or their "UX hat" to empathize with end-users, they adapt their communication style to foster understanding and alignment across diverse audiences.

Empathy for other people on your team increases a sense of connectedness. Connectedness increases collaboration and morale. When morale and collaboration are high, TEAMS WIN!

Moreover, great engineers understand that empathy is not just a soft skill; it's a critical component of effective teamwork. By empathizing with their colleagues' perspectives, challenges, and needs, they forge stronger connections and foster a culture of mutual support and understanding within the team. This sense of connectedness enhances collaboration, as team members are more willing to share ideas, provide assistance, and work together towards common goals.

In addition to empathy, great engineers also prioritize active listening. They understand that effective communication is a two-way street, and they make a concerted effort to listen attentively to their teammates' input, feedback, and concerns. By truly hearing and understanding the viewpoints of others, they can address issues more effectively, build consensus, and cultivate an environment where every team member feels valued and respected.

Furthermore, great engineers recognize the importance of transparency in communication. They are open and honest in their interactions, sharing relevant information openly and providing regular updates on the progress of their work. This transparency fosters trust within the team and ensures that everyone is on the same page, reducing misunderstandings and fostering a collaborative atmosphere where individuals feel empowered to contribute their best ideas and efforts.

Beyond internal communication, great engineers also excel in external communication with stakeholders, clients, and users. They are adept at articulating technical concepts in non-technical language, bridging the gap between the development team and other departments or external partners. Whether presenting project updates to senior management, conducting user research interviews, or responding to customer inquiries, they convey information clearly and effectively, building trust and credibility with external audiences.

While decent engineers may possess technical proficiency, great engineers distinguish themselves through their holistic approach to problem-solving, effective communication skills, and empathetic leadership. By thinking beyond their individual tasks, anticipating challenges, and fostering a culture of empathy and collaboration, great engineers not only elevate their own performance but also contribute to the overall success and cohesion of their teams and organizations.