Transitioning from a technical role to a leadership role is one of the biggest, and most challenging leaps you can make in the workplace.
You might have spent years mastering your craft, and now the expectation is that you step up, and hand that over to someone else, so that you can focus on bigger picture work.
In this situation, simply changing your title to ‘Manager’ or ‘Director’ does not necessarily mean you are truly acting like a leader.
Leadership requires a different set of behaviours and a different way of thinking, so it’s now your job to grow and evolve.
Here we have put together four key changes you need to make in order to transition from technician to a leader.
Change 1: Get comfortable spending more time with people, rather than on the tasks
One of the core differences between a leader and a technician, is that leaders are required to focus more of their energy on people and strategy, as opposed to implementation and execution.
For extroverts, this shift can come quite naturally and is often welcomed, however for introverts this shift can be uncomfortable.
Often the challenge people face as they step away from the ‘doing’ is the feeling that they aren’t ‘getting anything done’.
The key here is to change how you view productivity. Spending a day in one-on-ones with your team empowering them to do their work for the week is actually far more productive than you attempting to do all of that work yourself.
Change 2: Let go of the day-to-day tasks and learn to delegate
In order to step up, there will be technical tasks you were doing that you now need to stop doing.
One of the barriers that hold leaders back from focusing on the bigger picture is the feeling that they don’t “have the time” to do so or they’re worried about losing control if they let go. Who will fill the void left over if we stop focusing on day-to-day activity and start focusing on higher value work?
There is one very simple solution to this problem: delegation.
Underneath you, there might be multiple direct reports who are looking to grow and progress within the organisation. By handing over certain elements of your work to them, you free yourself up to focus on higher-value work.
At first, you’ll need to accept the fact that the work might not be the same quality you are used to, however with the right training and feedback from you, in time it might even be better.
Change 3: Rethink how you use your time
We make our habits, and then our habits make us. After years working your way up in the workforce, it’s only natural that you become used to doing things a certain way.
If you have been in your position for a while, when working on a project it’s often quicker and easiest to simply do tasks yourself, rather than training someone else to do them.
However, this approach is incredibly short sighted. While it might help you move things along more quickly in the short term, in the long term the ‘I’ll just do it myself’ mentality will not serve you.
The reality is while you may feel that you can do anything, you cannot do everything. When stepping into a leadership role you need to essentially retrain yourself on how you are spending your time.
Rather than spending it ‘doing’ tasks, you should be spending it empowering others to do those tasks so you can focus on higher-level work.
Change 4: Focus on higher-level thinking
What we should be aiming for as leaders is to focus on our highest and best use—higher-level thinking will ultimately lead to higher-level work that can truly have an impact on the organisation as a whole.
This is a sign of true leadership, as it requires you to take yourself out of the day-to-day action and think on a larger scale.
Questions higher-level thinking involve include asking yourself:
- What can the organisation do next?
- How can you innovate?
- How can you grow and develop?