From techie to business leader implies change

From Techie To Business Leader: A Story of Struggle

Johnny had been dreaming of this moment since he was a teenager. Too bad it was also the beginning of the end for him. You see this was his first day as the big boss of a software company.

He had worked hard, saved every penny and used all his savings to buy a small software company. Being a developer he has seen many startups striking out and going belly up blinded by what could be. Safer to buy a stable business, with existing customers he thought. And he was right.

What he did not plan on is how hard it is to manage and lead a technical company. Sure it seems easy watching from the sidelines, but now with skin in the game the truth surfaced with a vengeance.

First of all, he knew that developers are a sort of modern day “divas” but he never knew how much. As a colleague, even as a team leader he was never exposed to the gushing torrent of complaints and bickering as he was now as CEO.

It was like leading a kindergarten, not a professional software development firm.

Now he was remembering all the mean comments he made about past business leaders. “How foolish I was” he thought to himself.

You see Johnny made the classic mistake: he thought that just because he was a technical person, and able to deliver technical products, that he was guaranteed to be a great leader of a highly technical company.

Unfortunately the skills necessary to be a great techie are not 100% the ones required to be a great techie leader. In fact some of the skills and traits that make you an awesome technical producer might just be your downfall when it comes to leading technical people.

Even being a team leader on a project is light years away from what it means to be an upper management leader inside a technical company. Some people will appreciate your technical skills, others will resent them because they perceive them as a threat. Then you also have to bridge the communication gap between your technical people and all the other employees who are there to support and facilitate the delivery of the end products.

Basically you have to be able to walk in both worlds with a smile on your face and an uncanny skill for diplomacy. You can’t take sides anymore and it is your job to help people work together professionally even if they don’t see eye to eye.

Thus, it is a must as a leader to somewhat shed your technical background a little so as to be able to see – truly see – the big picture and also paint it vividly for all the people inside your company.


leadership, techie to leader

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