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Some of today's most successful leaders have one thing in common: They have an in-depth technical background that will help them make informed business decisions.
Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla and SpaceX, for example, studied physics at college and after graduating did an internship at tech startups in Silicon Valley, which eventually led him to focus on the Internet boom and his own startup a few years later to found. Another inspiration is Antonio Neri, CEO of Hewlett Packard Enterprise, who is deeply rooted in technology, making him a key player in the development of the company and a visionary of the “Everything as a Service” model.
As a co-founder of a technology company myself, I went through this journey firsthand as I have a practical technical background and in my current position had to master the transition to becoming a business leader. Over time I have come to realize that technical skills form the basis of my own career. These types of skills are essential as they allow you to take on hands-on roles that lead to real, front-line problem-solving experiences.
But at some point you will be forced to make a decision – continue to use those technical skills, or take the lead and commit to developing the business skills necessary to lead others and drive business results.
If you take the plunge, here are three key skills that you can move from a technical role to a managerial role.
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Many tech-savvy people come from a background where they are viewed as someone who has the answers, or is able to come up with the answer to a problem faster than others. When you move into a leadership role, you are now the person looking for answers on your team. Your ability to ask the right questions and listen to others is crucial. In fact, in many of the situations you encounter, a new mantra will be to "listen more than talk".
In addition, the ability to negotiate in a variety of circumstances, e.g. B. with suppliers, your team and your manager, an important indicator for the success in a leadership role. The best negotiators listen carefully and are able to show their counterparts recognition, empathy, and a clear understanding of the arguments presented. Your reputation as a listener will gain much more respect in your quest to be a great leader and will help build a reputation for being approachable, trustworthy, and even educational.
Time to take your hands off the keyboard. While you've done practical work before and have been admired for your ability to get things done, it is time to change that approach, no matter how difficult it is to ignore your natural style and comfort zone.
As a leader, you are the mentor, speaker, cheerleader and ultimately the underlying motivator of the team. Your success is earned through the success of your team members. If they're successful, so do you. Likewise, it is your responsibility when they fail, and long-term success often depends on how you deal with situations like this and, hopefully, find educational moments that will earn you the trust and respect of your team over the long term (and vice versa). .
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Communicating what success looks like is important. Allow teams to steer their path to this outcome within their respective areas of expertise. Avoid the temptation to “just do it yourself” because the solution will seem obvious to you.
Leadership is one of the most sought-after yet most difficult skills to master. It is also the most important skill to master if you take on a senior C-level role such as CTO or CIO. People tend to be strong leaders. All the results you achieve during your career will be underpinned by your ability to guide those around you towards the goals you have set.
It is not uncommon for technicians to struggle with this, as humility is seen as a desirable quality. You don't have to break your ethics or principles, but in a leadership role, being a calm, humble leader can be of disservice to both you and those you lead.
Promoting the results of your efforts is just as important as being able to convince others to follow your ideas and support them. Many leaders have failed here because they haven't been able to nurture the positive impact of their team's work. Some of the best leaders I've worked with have clearly recognized the importance of that quality. They knew how and when to use the opportunity to nurture their success, and they used that success to gain trust and greater approval for their future initiatives across the company.
The ability to advertise is also an important foundation for other groups across the company to better understand your job and the contribution it makes to the company. It will lead to stronger relationships and build bridges with other teams and leaders. These relationships will be vital as you continue to nurture new initiatives and care about the whole company. This is the most powerful way to help your team gain recognition that supports career advancement through a recognized track record.
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From the point of view of someone with a technical background, listening, leading, and nurturing skills are often the most difficult to adapt when your natural style doesn't prioritize these qualities. Confidence is the key. Good leaders will examine themselves through an honest lens and be very aware of their natural behavior and potential areas for improvement. It's easy to focus on your strengths, but when it comes to being an effective leader, focus on where you can grow.