It’s not uncommon for software engineers and tech practitioners to struggle to make the move to management positions, which is why being among the ones that understand business concepts and have business skills can help define your career and make the jump to management level.
Understanding business concepts and skills can be lucrative for tech leaders in that they can be seen as capable of taking on more and wider responsibilities with these competencies. Not just that, having competencies outside of the tech arena can make them integral to an organization as a tech leader.
Moreover, when the time comes, these people can evolve into leadership roles more naturally than those who stayed within the ambit of technology.
Here are ten skills that play a critical role in facilitating the shift from tech practitioner to leadership.
The Ability to Work with People
The meaning of being a leader is to be able to achieve goals and growth through other people. Tech leaders need to establish healthy relationships with both other leaders and the teams they directly work with on a daily basis.
Rather than spending days scooped up in an office perched on a desk with their earphones on, a tech leader must communicate with people and learn the dance of working with them.
Most of us assume empathy is a value when it comes to personal relationships, not corporate teams. However, learning to understand how other people might think and feel can go a long way in establishing those relationships we were talking about.
Empathy is the difference between a leader who conveys the shared vision and goals of the organisation to their team and gets them excited versus the leader who’s disconnected from their team.
Technology leaders face an entirely different set of challenges than other leaders. In order to navigate complex workplace situations and find solutions on a daily basis, tech leaders need decision-making competencies.
Evolving into this new role means being in charge of allocating resources, forming teams, and implementing new initiatives across the board- all decisions with long-term impacts, needing thorough decision-making.
This new role requires them to fully understand why a specific decision was made, no matter when, to gain insights into the business.
Tech leaders can make a case for every project in front of stakeholders by pitching the “why”. Also, when a leader explains the “why”, their teams understand the strategy behind what they're doing and follow through.
This is an often-ignored skill but one that plays a critical role. Leaders sometimes find themselves in positions where they need something done internally or externally or need ideas or advice on a specific challenge.
This is where their network can come in handy. It can act as an extension of their own knowledge, expertise and connections. Therefore, it’s important to create and maintain a strong peer network.
Leading is about influencing a change in habits, ideas and actions. Many tech leaders fall short in influencing key stakeholders as they fail to translate tech talk into business relevance. Without a real influence over your team and peers, you can’t effectively lead.
It takes an influential tech leader to create momentum toward innovation and change.
A tech leader must not only understand the rich features of their product or the frameworks and APIs but also what value their offering brings to their customers. Customer centricity is one key skill that allows a leader to relate with the customer.
Right from when they purchase to when they renew, what impact does your product/service make for your customers?
Emotional intelligence popularly includes self-awareness, self-management, social awareness and relationship management. So it’s a balance between understanding and empathizing with not only your own emotions but of those around you.
High emotional intelligence can help tech leaders regulate their emotions in times of crisis and effectively lead their team to the finish line.
Ownership and Accountability
A true leader never points fingers in the direction of their team or peers but learns to take ownership. A technical expert may be poised to take on a leadership role, but they must rely on more than just technical expertise to evolve into the role.
And one of the skills necessary is taking accountability for the mistakes and shortcomings of your colleagues.
Envisioning and Strategic Thinking for the Future
A tech expert transitioning into a tech leader is no longer expected to stay glued to the task at hand but innovate and anticipate a company’s future. Successful technology leaders are comfortable charting a new course and visualizing a different tomorrow for the company.
Tech leaders have a unique responsibility to consistently strategize and envision plans for their organisation.
These leadership skills will help you build your career faster than ever before. In a candidate-driven market - where there are more jobs than people to fill them - equipping yourself with leadership skills, whether you're growing a team or planning a move into the C-Suite, will give you almost limitless opportunities. Our community events are dedicated to helping people grow their technical and leadership skills and we hold one every month. They're free and always will be.