Technical Expert to Leader: 7 signs of leaders who are not making the transition

Have you come across someone who is struggling after having been promoted from technical expert to leader? It’s often the case that the logical next step for the outstanding technical expert is into leadership. But they are typically thrown in the deep end with little or no leadership development support. Maybe now that same leader is wondering if they made the right call. Their problem solving superpower helped them solve technical problems. But in leadership, the problems they face are ‘people’ problems wherever they look. It’s a separate skill.

The first step is to recognise that there is a problem. Here are seven telltale signs of someone struggling with the transition from expert to leader.

1️⃣ They tell you it’s hard to get good people

2️⃣ They believe it’s easier for them to do things themselves rather than explain it to someone else

3️⃣ They still enjoy solving technical problems more than dealing with people

4️⃣ They like to be seen as the smartest person in the room

5️⃣ Team members say their leader is a micro manager and they are not learning and growing

6️⃣ They love solving the problems their team bring to them instead of asking for solutions

7️⃣ They end up being overwhelmed with an ever growing to-do list of problems to solve

“With great power comes great responsibility.”

Spider-Man’s Uncle Ben (and many others!)

If you know someone who would tick several of these boxes, then do them a favour and suggest they reinvent their problem solving superpower. It will make life easier for themselves and those around them.

Solving technical problems has served them well. However, now they have a bigger problem to solve; how to get the best from the people around them.

Of course, a smart move would be to engage a coach to help them make the transition from expert to leader. Just saying!

🙋 What is your observation of technical experts making the transition to leader? 🙋‍♀️

PS: Read more about the transition from technical expert to leader in my book, Leadership Is Changing the Game.

Best regards, Brian