Have you ever wondered why you were chosen for a leadership role in your organization?
Maybe you’re that rare exception, but here’s how most organizations promote individual contributors and put them in charge of the group – they look for those with robust technical skills and ask them to run the show.
Great software engineers are promoted to IT Manager. Great marketing professionals are promoted to Brand Manager. Great financial analysts are promoted to Finance Manager, and so on…
Your technical skills are probably what set you apart and got you noticed. They are almost definitely a major factor in your promotion. That’s what brought you to the party.
But now that you’re here, you’ll need two other skill sets to succeed.
You’ll need interpersonal skills when you coach a team member, help resolve a conflict between members of your team, deliver feedback, mentor someone, or even run a better meeting, making sure all points of view are heard and honored.
You’ll need political skills when you compete inside the organization for slack resources, when you figure out the difference between the org chart and reality and how to leverage that knowledge, or when you take a risk that trumps written policy and procedures.
Here’s some straight talk: the technical skills which got you promoted won’t be enough to sustain you in your new role. Technical skills must take a back seat to people skills.
Welcome to the people business.
Where you once thrived solving technical challenges, you will now be expected to solve people problems. If you rely on your technical expertise, and neglect the human side of leadership, sooner or later, you will be shown the door. Your team will eventually sabotage you, your peers will start to avoid you, and your boss will withdraw his or her support. Your strengths will have become your liability.
Perhaps. If you’re one of the fortunate few who brought people skills to the new position, all the better. But if you’re like most folks, you spent years honing your technical skills and got so good at them they put you in charge. If you want to succeed in this new adventure, focus on developing your people skills.
Leadership is all about people.