From technology leader to leader of technology
The biggest challenge faced by any person as they progress through their career is making the transition from being the person that does, to the person that supports others to do.
This is never more the case than within technology.
There are so many horror stories out there of people being promoted and then falling back into their old role after a period of time. The reasons are many, and there's also many things that can be done to counteract this.
How can you make sure you're ready for the transition. Ready to go from technology leader, to the leader of technology?
1. Make sure you know how to evaluate your success - what does good look like in a leadership role? Likely it will not be how successful your project has been or how much code you have written.
2. Understand what your business actually does - what are the challenges faced by other areas of the business? How does what you do, affect them and your client or customer? Sit with the other areas of the business, go to their monthly meetings, find out what their pinch points are and what they do!
3. Ask to be involved in business driven projects or initiatives - understand their aims and how technology can help.
4. Be curious - technologists are known for wanting to learn new things, expand that curiosity beyond the next version of Java. Find out how your organisation does business cases; how do the budgets work? What is the business strategy? What is the long term vision?
5. If you currently don't have line management responsibility, offer to coach or mentor new people. Speak to your manager or HR about running training courses or being put on leadership training courses. Become a coach or mentor - get a coach or mentor!
6. Get some 360 feedback - find out what your development areas are and start to work on them!
7. If you are ready to move - look at your CV!
I speak to so many people who are great technologists who send their CV's through for leadership opportunities stating their qualifications, accreditations and certifications; the list of technologies, methodologies and frameworks. All of which are useful, but not in pride of place front and centre.
If you are looking for that first leadership role - whether it is your first team lead role or the Head of... you need to be able to articulate what your contribution means to the business. How have you helped reduce bottom line costs through the delivery of X using Y? How has this affected the delivery of projects on the business? You need to be able to demonstrate how what you do in technology has helped your business achieve its goals.
That awareness and understanding is what will take you from being a great technical leader to a true leader of technology.
Written by Kersty Bletso