Technical Leadership – An Introduction
Posted by Sri Subramanian (@whosissri) on June 25, 2011
As Justin points out, it is performance review time. It is time to take stock, and to use this conversation as an opportunity to steer the ship. Unfortunately, often, we don’t know the destinations (what does it mean to be a leader at the next level), and if we know the destination, we don’t know the path (how do I get those opportunities to hone the skills I don’t have, and prove the ones I do). This is particularly difficult for those of us who pursue the technical ladder, since most leadership books, seminars, classes, and other learning opportunities focus on the management-type.
The tricky part of about leadership transitions is that to be a bigger leader, we don’t need to do more and better. We sometimes need to do stop doing what we have been successfully doing, and do different things altogether. This is particularly confusing since:
- No one tells us this.
- Most companies have more salary grades and titles than there are palpable leadership transitions. This leads to confusion as to whether the next promotion requires a real transition or not.
- Most companies, due to a combination of unintended errors, end up with people of all leadership levels at all grades. More confusion ensues, as we compare ourselves to so called leaders at the next level, and wonder why that promotion does not come our way.
Stay tuned for a series of posts about the different transitions in the technical ladder, and some of the challenges involved in each of these transitions.
- I am a software engineer by training, and have worked in the software industry all this time. As you read on, you may notice this bias. I do, however, believe that what I outline translates well into other highly technical industries – pharmaceutical, semiconductor, automobile engineering, and such. I am very interested in hearing from leaders both in my and other industries on their thoughts.
- My sincere thanks to Charan, Drotter, and Noel. This guide is clearly fashioned after the management leadership transitions, outlined in their book Leadership Pipeline. I am sure I have subconsciously picked ideas from many others. If you notice parallels, please just leave a comment, to draw attention to it.