You can lead people more skilled than you. ("Impostor Syndrome" isn't always the right diagnosis.)

Musing for:

You can lead people more skilled than you.

On one hand, one of the biggest mistakes companies often make is promoting the team member with the most technical skill into management.

On the other hand, if you’re not the most technically skilled and you’re promoted anyway, that can pose an interesting set of challenges. But you can turn those challenges to your advantage.

1️⃣ When you feel like your technical skills don’t measure up (and if you’re being honest with yourself, you will feel that way), resist the temptation to use the “impostor syndrome” label on that feeling. Acknowledge that other members of the team have more technical expertise than you do. Acknowledge it first to yourself, and then to your team.

2️⃣ Remember that moving from engineer to manager is a career change. Your organization may still want you to do some engineering work, but the people work is now your primary responsibility.

3️⃣ Celebrate the fact that you have engineers on your team that are more skilled than you are. Let them know that you recognize their skill and that their suggestions, corrections, and feedback will be crucial to the team’s success.

4️⃣ Actively solicit the feedback of your engineers, and act on it. When your team receives praise for the success of a project, highlight the contributions your team members made and give them credit for the success.

In many ways, leading a team can be easier when you know you’re not the most technically skilled. Delegation becomes easier, and micromanagement is less of a temptation.

If you do find yourself leading people more skilled than you are, and you’re finding other challenges I haven’t mentioned, let’s talk.

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