3 Tips To Move From Technical Expert To Leader

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How do you transition from a technician to a transformational leader?  You have become a tremendous technical expert in your field and your boss brings you into your office to tell you that you have been promoted to team leader, VP of Sales, VP of operations or leader of your unit.

You have been selected because you have shown that you are a fantastic subject matter expert, a revenue generator or great at retaining customers.  You have your first meeting with your team and “Cricket / Cricket” you have no idea what to do.

This happens all the time in business.  Leaders naturally promote those skilled technical experts to levels of management and leadership and it is creating challenges.

How do you transition from technical expert to leader? Here are three suggestions:

1. Develop Your Purpose: My friend Mike Donahue tells us that great teams have a shared purpose.  Here is a simple exercise to get to your purpose statement.  Put up a white board and ask the question…”The purpose of our group is to (let the group talk and you write) below this section write “So that…” and write their responses.  From there compile your purpose statement.  Exciting!

2. Engage In The Work: It is easy to take to your perch as leader and disengage from the work.  You need to continue to build your expertise in your field to maintain your credibility. The temptation is to disengage from the work and bark out orders.  Robert Hogan states that effective leaders are only effective when their teams win.

3. Relationships Are The Foundation: As I have shared in numerous previous posts, your trump card is your ability to build trusting relationships with your team and inspire them to become more than they are right now.  Using data or numbers only in your 1:1s may not be most effective.  Your team needs to know that you are deeply committed to their success.

What are some of your challenges as you move from a technical expert to a leadership role?