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    A leader of people not being understood

    How to Transform a Technical Expert into a People Leader

    It is common for top performers in organizations to be promoted into roles with more and more responsibilities, including that of managing people. For individuals with highly technical skills – such as those in finance, engineering, medicine, research and creative roles – they have often been promoted for their technical capability and subject matter expertise. They may be the best CPA, the best reverse-engineer, the best neurosurgeon, the best digital marketer, or even the leader in their field of study, but that doesn’t mean they’ve been taught how to lead others. After promotion to roles leading people and teams, many of these individuals struggle to achieve the same level of success they had in more technical roles.

    At Nebo, we often see this classic case of “what got you here won’t get you there.” Subject matter expertise and technical knowhow will certainly be a significant asset to any leader, however, studies have shown that the most significant predictor of excellence and success in a leadership role is emotional intelligence. Despite the influence emotional intelligence has on leadership success, we find that many organizations do not seek to develop these skills in employees and professional development investments are often put towards enhancing and developing further technical skills and expertise. 

    Nebo’s coaches and facilitators excel at working with leaders from technical backgrounds to build the emotional intelligence required for success in a people leadership role. Through our leadership development offerings, we work with leaders to develop the four core elements of emotional intelligence:

    • Self-awareness – The ability to recognize your own personal strengths and weaknesses and how you show up in the world
    • Self-management – The ability to manage your emotions and adapt as needed for each situation
    • Social awareness – The capacity for empathy and the ability to appreciate the perspectives of others
    • Relationship management – The capacity to appreciate others, inspire others, and form and maintain relationships with others

    There are many ways organizations can develop emotional intelligence in technical experts such as one-on-one coaching and leadership development programs. We would recommend one-on-one coaching for leaders currently managing people and/or process and those who may need individualized support in order to work on skills identified in specific feedback. We recommend leadership development programs to bring important emotional intelligence concepts and skill building experiences to leaders across the organization, providing significant impact within the organization.

    Nebo recommends that the development of emotional intelligence for technical experts happens throughout their career. Professional development should include both technical skills and leadership development. By making the demonstration of emotional intelligence an expectation of excellent performance early on in the career of a technical expert, organizations can better prepare their future leaders for the realities of the professional opportunities that lay ahead.

    How is your organization developing its technical experts for the leadership roles they will hold tomorrow? If you are seeking leadership development options that might work for your organization, let us know. We would be happy to serve as a thought partner as you consider the possibilities.


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