6 questions that new (technical) leaders need to reflect on

One of the services that I provide is working with people who have superb technical skills to develop their leadership capabilities.

In my experience, people with superb technical skills respond much better to one on one coaching than to learning with a group of people since in a group, they have often learned to be heroes and/or excel by leaning on one limited set of skills with people prone to worship technical talent.

When I do intake before I start the work itself, I ask 15 questions in a 2 hour session. Here are 6 of the questions that I ask before we start to work to begin to understand who I am working with.

  • What are the major assumptions that you have about what makes leadership “happen”?
  • What can’t leaders do?
  • What is the added value that a leader should provide towards clients, boss’ and peers? Direct and indirect reports?
  • What events detract from a leader’s influence?
  • What are some of the reasons you can think of why people would not follow you?
  • What are some of the main reasons that you followed and did not follow people who have led you?

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5 thoughts on “6 questions that new (technical) leaders need to reflect on

  1. A good list of questions. The leadership role may be so unfamiliar to a technical expert, they may not be aware of their assumptions. Many assumptions will be heard as they answer the other questions.

    A technical expert sees their greatest contribution to the organization as just that–their technical expertise. Point 3 is one that will draw out their perception of the value/purpose of the leader/manager role (which they often don’t really understand). Once a smart person, having basic emotional skills sees value in their choice to become a leader, they can learn the skills and behaviors to be effective. Sometimes, however, they have to just start learning the skills and behaviors until they discover the value they can add in this new role.

    Your friend, Ed, forwarded your list to the EverythingDiSC LinkedIn group.

  2. Your comment re “individual” vs “group” as applied to leadership development for highly technical minds is an interesting one. I have experienced the opposite: However there were conditions:
    • Group composition: Ensuring only techies.
    • Approach: Knowers who believe vs Believers who know
    • Pre-course interview: In fact, using similar questions to yours.
    • Program design: Work-based, action-based
    • Varied methodologies: Mix of inductive and deductive

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