Can a leader be TOO technically competent? Are you?
It seems almost bizarre to ask the question. We always value subject matter experts (SME’s) on our teams. A certain amount of technical expertise is typically a pre-requisite for a leadership role.
But technical expertise can be a detriment. How? I’ve seen leaders undermine their own effectiveness by being too expert. These super-smart project managers could literally do any job on the project better than anyone else. Combine their extraordinary ability with a zeal for perfection and you can easily imagine the result: they just couldn’t keep their hands off other people’s responsibilities.
Here’s a quick test to see if you are suffering from technical ‘over-competence.’
1. Correct your team members in front of your management or customers?
2. Make all the small decisions, as well as all the big ones?
3. “Roll up your sleeves” to help out, causing a team member to stand aside and watch you do their job?
4. Make last minute decisions that make little improvements but cause the team to react in a panic?
5. Publicly over-ride the plan of a second-in-command?
You can justify these behaviors because, after all you ARE right. You do get a BETTER product.
A Lost Leadership Opportunity
The over-competent, quality focused leader is losing sight of a leader’s role: engage and inspire the team to be their best.
What’s worse, it is demeaning and demoralizing to work for these micro-managers. They reduce our pride of accomplishment as they needlessly tweak the products of our work. They don’t intend it, but the message they send is, “You aren’t capable or important.”
If you are indeed the smartest, most technically skilled person on your team: Congratulations. Now multiply your value! Embrace your opportunity to lead and inspire by being a leader first, and a technician second.