Technical Expert to Leader: Business Challenge

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Moving from technical expert to a leader is about the promotional process of the business.  You see if you are excellent at customer service, completing tax returns, creating legal documents or have the best industry knowledge then you may be up for promotion soon.

This post is for you, your manager and the executive.  There is nothing wrong with this career path.  In fact, it is preferred.  Why?  You have instant credibility as an industry impact player. The challenge is that for many exceptional experts moving into a leadership role means failure.

Here are some suggestions for you as you make that move:

#1: Where do you want to take your team? This is about answering questions like: What goals will you accomplish? How do plan on improving the current reality? What are the steps you will take to get there?

#2: Where is your team at currently?  This includes industry knowledge, business knowledge and current skills.  I would suggest a matrix that answers questions like:

a.  What I know that they do not?

b.  What do they know that I know?

c.  How is trust on your team? Low / Middle / High

d.  What are your expectations for the team?

#3: What are the agenda topics for the first and second team meetings? This should include meeting deliverables, developing your team purpose statement and goals.

#4: One to ones:   These are very intentional conversations that move the team goals and results forward.  Consider having the member on your team create the agenda for the 1:1 prior and send it to you for review.  If trust on your team is low, then you may not want to take this approach initially and start exploring why trust is not high on your team.

#5: Delegation: It is the temptation of everyone to hold tight to this mantra: “If you want something to get done correctly, do it yourself.” Again, this pushes against the opportunity for you to truly develop your team.  They need opportunities to learn and you need to build trust with your team. Start by having a face to face meeting with your direct report to explain what you are passing along to them and state your expectations.  Check in before the due date to measure progress.

Remember the measure of your success now is about the success of your team.  Your job moves from the competence you have in being technically skilled to the new competence you will gain in helping your team win.

Welcome to one of the most challenging and rewarding roles in all of business.  No doubt you are equal to the task.  The question is will you be as intentional about developing your leadership acumen as you were your technical expertise?