I joined Meta as an E5, and now I'm looking to get to E6. I want to stay on the IC track, so my goal is concretely to get to E6 and stay there, not become an M1. I know that leadership is crucial for EMs, but is it the same for staff engineers at Meta? I'm currently leading <5 engineers who are probably E3/E4, and I'm wondering if I need to expand my leadership scope there.
The number you influence matters, direct leadership on a project less so. Having 20 engineers on a project team is maybe too many anyway.
Your behaviors should be having cross-team impact. 20-30 engineers (this is rough) should be better because of what you do. Certainly the 4-5 you are leading on a project should be MUCH better because they should be learning to do things like you, and there’s a lot of direct interaction, but your outside-of-project work should impact many more.
There could be project crossover if you can rework a library or tool to support this project but it’s also used by many others. It could be that you need to just do other things.
If you’re not wanting TLM or M1, just be clear on that, and be sure you’re doing what is needed on the people axis for E6. It’s only a problem if your manager or other E6+ engineers tell you it is, but I doubt the size of a project team is a primary blocker.