The biggest misconception engineers have when thinking about moving into management is they think it’s a promotion.
Management is not a promotion. It is a career change.
If you want to do your leadership job effectively, you will be exercising a vastly different set of skills on a daily basis to what you are exercising as an engineer. Skills you likely haven’t developed and are unaware of.
Your job is not to be an engineer. Your job is not to be a manager. Your job is to be a multiplier.
You exist to remove roadblocks and eliminate interruptions for the people you work with.
You exist to listen to people (not just hear them!), to build relationships and trust, to deliver bad news, to resolve conflict in a just way.
You exist to think about the bigger picture, ask provoking and sometimes difficult questions, and relate the big picture back to something meaningful, tangible, and actionable to the team.
You exist to advocate for the team, to promote the group and individual achievements, to gaze into unconstructive criticism and see underlying motivations, and sometimes even give up control and make sacrifices you are uncomfortable or disagree with.
You exist to make systemic improvements with the help of the people you work with.
Does this sound like engineering work?
The truth of the matter is this: you are woefully unprepared for a career in management, and you are unaware of how badly unprepared you are.
There are two main contributing factors that have put you in this position:
- The Dunning-Kruger effect
- Systemic undervaluation of non-technical skills in tech