In January of 2021, I was asked to step into a Director of Engineering role, and despite thinking I was solidly on the technical track, I decided to take on the challenge of leading an engineering team. There was so much that I loved about leading that team, but by the end of the year, I knew that leadership wasn’t for me. And so, I asked to move back into an individual contributor role, and I specifically requested to stay on the team that I had spent a year leading. What I’ve found since making the transition is that because of that year in leadership, I’m a stronger, more confident, and more efficient software engineer than I was before. In this talk, I’ll discuss the specific ways in which leadership has accelerated by growth, impact and efficiency as an individual contributor. Some of these include my strengthened bonds with my teammates; my newfound initiative to take ownership of and suggest change around team processes; my willingness to advocate for time to upskill; and the ditching of my long-time imposter syndrome. I’ll provide specific examples of mindsets and behaviors connected to these growth areas both before and after leadership in order to best illustrate my professional development, with the dual goals of helping existing senior engineers understand their current or potential superpowers, as well as equipping engineering leaders with ideas around how to coach and develop their engineers.