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Leading when you are the technical expert

11 Jul 2018

Welcome to the second in our series of leadership challenges that we have identified from our one-to-one coaching and leadership development practice, as being common to leaders regardless of the sector / industry in which they work. Here Maddie Fox looks at the challenges of leading when you are the expert.

Perhaps you have heard the saying, ‘What got you here today, won’t get you there tomorrow’. This has some significance for those who are stepping into their first leadership role. For many technical experts or individual contributors, they will have been rewarded up to this point for their knowledge and expertise. Their individual contribution, ability to problem solve and get on with tasks autonomously will have been key to their success. Their individual excellence in these roles is often rewarded with an opportunity to step into a leadership role.

For some this new experience presents challenges to their identity, having always been known as an expert in their field. In addition, moving from a place of ‘doing the doing’ to empowering their team to ‘do the doing’ takes a big shift in mindset as well as practise. Moreover, current organisational structures will require these leaders to be a ‘producer-manager’, retaining some of their individual contributor responsibilities at the same time as taking on the responsibility of a team. This can put pressure on how they manage these sometimes conflicting priorities effectively.

How can we help?

As experienced coaches and leadership development specialists, we work alongside our clients to design unique programmes that target their organisational goals. We want to get under the skin of the organisation to identify the key skills set required to ensure the leaders are successful within the business. This could be done through a series of workshops designed to provide theory, practise and feedback. These workshops give participants an opportunity to try things out in a safe learning environment.

Successful management development programmes might include key topics such as;

  • Vision

  • Strategic thinking

  • Definition of leadership

  • Performance management

  • Giving and receiving feedback

  • Manager as coach

  • Delegation and empowerment

  • Managing time effectively

  • Communication and personal commitments

  • Relationships and stakeholders

Further support can be accomplished by a series of one-to-one coaching sessions designed to establish the individual’s specific objectives in relation to their leadership development, agreeing on measures of success and setting the priorities for change. Confidential sessions over 6-12 months will enable the creation of a clear strategy for development, harnessing strengths, identifying barriers and working to overcome these. This is then supported by the collection of feedback or 360 data which can be repeated at the end to allow for review of progress and ongoing development needs.

The benefits of dealing with this challenge

Leadership is not a profession, it is something most of us are expected to pick up along the way. The benefits of providing the right level of development for new leaders is that we know good leadership can be learned. With a structured programme of support, you can ensure your leaders are set up for success and your teams consistently achieve their goals over time. Superior business performance is directly connected to the development of leadership capability. As such, developing good leadership skills is critical for the whole organisation and the benefits will filter down to all employees, directly impacting on organisational culture. Our development programmes and coaching offering are designed to positively impact on leadership belief systems and help develop strong leaders in your organisation.

Leading when you are the technical expert
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