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So you want to be the boss?

Nowadays a lot of people feel like they need to move up in order to claim “growth” in their professional life.  Once they master something they think that the next natural thing is having a few folks “underneath them”

I think at the core of this is a failure in American corporate culture. The fact that you are a director actually does not mean that you are smarter than all of the people who report to you.  In the position of a director you are concentrating on different things.

If you are a good engineer you should actually continue being an engineer because if you become a director you are probably not going to engineer anything.  If you are a director that still writes code you are probably missing some other important responsibilities.

What are the issues you are going to deal with as a director?
1) recruiting and talent retention
2) defending your team from external interruptions
3) being an external and internal champion for your project
4) dealing with under performers
5) stroking peoples egos
6) conflict resolution
I am not suggesting that as a director you should be completely oblivious to the details of how things are done, but most of your time is actually spent selling and using other “soft skills.”  You are selling the opportunity to candidates, selling the fruits of your team’s labor to your sales/marketing team and so on.  If you are an engineer and dealing with dense people irritates you, or you take rejection personally, or if you like getting deep into technical problems – you are probably not going to be happy being “the boss.”

How do we keep engineers happy at engineering so they don’t desire to be promoted to the maximum level of incompetency?   Simple – recognize that products are really their creation.  For example a couple of guys on my team just shipped a product.  I made sure that they were the ones who were mentioned in the internal announcement – not “the team,” not “my team,” but Dave and Mike.


PS: I picked engineers here because I am familiar with this topic, but the same thing goes for marketers, sales people, artists and all other individual superstars.

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