What Makes a Great People Manager? Part 8: Technical Competence
At first, it surprised me when I saw technical competence at the bottom of the list of the ranking of important skills of a manager at Google. Especially because it's Google, that's kind of what they do. The other reason it surprised me is because I thought that the leader had to be the smartest, toughest, most charismatic, best trained and highest performing to be successful. And many organizations believe the same.
So to see people skills ranked above technical competence was surprising. However, the longer that I've been a people manager the more I understand why.
But it is important to point out that it is still absolutely on the list. Effective leadership is not either technical or people competence, but both.
Know Enough to Be Dangerous
Several years into being a people manager I learned from other managers that leading was different from doing and so the pendulum swung hard the other direction and little emphasis was placed on technical skill.
But that wasn't right either. Now I believe the answer is somewhere in the middle.
In order to be effective in any of the other people manager skills covered in the earlier parts of this series you will have to have at least a base level understanding of the functions of your team. Especially in order to coach and drive results. And it builds trust by jumping in with your team when there're swamped or need to accomplish something important. But be careful not to go to far and take over and disempower them or become a crutch and get stuck with an overflowing plate.
Knowing enough, technically speaking, can also help you help your team make process and system improvements. They may be so used to something so dysfunctional or not valuable that if you learn what the end result is and how to use the tools and bring your own perspective you can potentially save them a lot of time and headache.
Culture as Competency
The more people know, the more stuff gets done right?
Consolidating competence to just management is actually limiting for a team. The best way to empower and get more done is to grow everyone's skill level.
I've referenced Dave Marquet's story multiple times now in this series because its so comprehensive of everything leadership needs to be today and for the future.
The core of his story is about empowerment and building a culture of greatness through a different type of leadership.
Marquet points out that there are two pillars that support truly effective empowering leadership: competence and clarity.
Think about it. When are the times and what are the things that you don't give power and authority to others to make decisions about? Typically, things you don't believe they have the skill in or don't understand "the big picture" about, right?
Well great news, both are totally fixable! All you have to do is inspire an environment of constant learning and regularly share and reinforce the vision, strategy and values of the organization.
Well, not so much. Its simple, yes, but requires even more for leaders than does a micromanagement approach. But the pay off is so much greater.
How would your team look and feel if every single member was pushing themselves and each other to learn and grow to help everyone and the organization succeed? Amazing, right?
So make learning the norm and freely give away knowledge and opportunities to learn and let your people blow you away.
As my 2 year old son says when he's done eating and the clean up can begin!
I hope you enjoyed this series and I pray it brought some value to you. If so I would love to her from you and would like to hear what other topics within leadership and people management you'd like to read about. So let me know.
And thanks for reading!
Dave Marquet's Turn the Ship Around