The transition from Technician to Leader is the most important you will make in your career.
Lawyers, doctors, engineers, scientists…where would the world be without technical specialists?
In many industries you are lauded and rewarded for your superior technical knowledge and expertise. In my blog last week I talked about the power of specialising – the technical expert does that well.
Technical expertise will take you far in your career. You will get praise, pay increases and a promise of even more technically challenging work. Promotion often follows, and before you can say “I’m the boss” you’ve progressed through the ranks of your organisation and you’re leading a team, or a project.
And that’s when you realise – you’re not trained to lead. You’re trained to do.
Before too long you’re up to your neck in people issues, team dynamics and office politics. And you are completely out of your depth. You just want to get back to doing a great job and not have to deal with all the other “stuff”.
Welcome to the biggest transition of your career: from Technician to Leader.
The reality is that professionals in most industries are ill-equipped, at best, to lead people. At worst, they are completely incapable of leading people, which can result in damaged relationships, dysfunctional teams and decreased business profits.
Being thrust into a leadership position with no support and training is also dangerous for the individual. I have seen countless cases of people stuck in a downward spiral of self-doubt, fear, confusion and stress because they feel incapable of doing the job they were promoted to.
So what’s the key to moving from technical expert to leader? The first step of course is awareness.
Here’s a model I created to help you:
Ability: Assess your starting point. What skills and strengths do you already bring to a leadership role?
Knowledge: When you know your starting point, you can identify the gaps that need to be filled with relevant knowledge (and experience).
Values: It’s imperative you know what you stand for, so you can share that with others. This will sustain you through the tough times.
Message: What do you want to be known for and why will others follow you? It’s all in the message you impart. Be clear what that message is, and be willing to reinforce it through actions as well as words.
The good news is leadership skills can be learned. However, leadership attitude is a whole different thing. Moving from Technician to Leader starts with your intention and your state of mind.
When you’re in the paddock and the gate opens, do your best not to follow the herd. Create your own path to the fresh pasture, and see how the others follow you.
PS If you are in transition right now, join me in Sydney and Brisbane for my signature workshop that will help you learn the skills you need. There’s not many places left for the next workshops so click here to register or either location now.
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