Promote People to Leadership Roles for the Right Reasons

March 8, 2019 | Building bosses Brett Burkhart, Partner, Shift Interactive,

Q: How is developing leaders and mentors in technology roles different than any other role?

A: Just because an employee is the best coder or technician in the company does not necessarily mean he or she should be your next choice to be a mentor or leader. In some ways developing technical leaders can be the same as any other role, but in other ways it can be quite different.

How developing technical leaders can be the SAME as other roles

As with any other role, the person you choose to elevate to the level of leading others needs to have qualities such as warmth, approachability, understanding and calm, and also an ability to be direct at the same time. A leader or mentor needs to have a genuine interest in seeing others on the team get better and contribute more to the mission. They need to know that their success is no longer judged by their personal output alone, and that the team’s success is also their success and their responsibility.

How developing technical leaders can be DIFFERENT than other roles

Technical roles such as software engineers, user experience designers, business analysts and app developers benefit from being led by someone who has an understanding of what their work is like, and who can help them brainstorm and solution through problems. The leader does not necessarily need to be able to design or code or write the specifications themselves, but an understanding and appreciation for how the work is done allows the leader or mentor to recognize when the person they’re leading is stuck, to encourage them, and to question the potential options in a healthy brainstorm to assist them in coming up with their own solutions.

Elevate people in your company to leadership roles not because of tenure, but because they have the skills and interest to lead others for the right reasons.