You don’t need hundreds of employees to be an influencer, motivator or producer. Often, some of the best, most valuable and effective people in an organization are not managers.
Nor do they want to be. They are individual contributors (ICs): highly skilled professionals who are fundamental to the growth and innovation of businesses. They can be engineers, designers or developers. He has his ability to use his technical skills to find solutions to problems, and his influence despite having no direct reports.
In the world of digital transformation, technical professionals are more important than ever. They are the driving force behind product development in tech companies, and they hold a significant weight in determining processes and tasks throughout the business, regardless of the industry.
ICS: Unsung heroes have great leadership abilities
In business, the terms’ leader ‘and’ manager ‘are often considered the same thing’ and it is clear that in many ways they are complementary. Managers are often leaders, responsible for the performance, growth and development of their employees. However, management is not for everyone. Many people do not wish to manage, and some actively avoid it due to increased responsibility and administration.
For example, ICS focuses on developing its technical expertise. They are good at what they do because they are passionate about their specialties and have made technical excellence their goal. For them, management is only a burden that will take away time and attention from what they love to do.
The expertise that ICS cultivates in their careers is a skill that all companies desperately need today. They are the foundation of innovation in a fast-paced digital world. Consequently, developing this talent so that it is properly applied should be a priority for every organization.
Less administration, more leadership
At a time when businesses need to change digitally, leadership skills can give technical people the ability to make a significant difference to the wider company, to the extent that they can shape and influence their future direction . They can monitor, guide, and teach others who have technical aspirations but need a specialist to help them develop their career.
Without leadership skills, however, it can be difficult for ICS to reach their potential as they may not have the tools to communicate ideas to others and share knowledge that leads to empowerment and cross-team success takes away.
It is imperative that organizations view the skills of ICS as equivalent to managers and invest in their development through initiatives that provide the structure of traditional management programs but focus on leadership rather than managerial practices. Through the right training, ICS can build the skills necessary to communicate outside their teams, act as change agents, and gain greater visibility with other business leaders.
How to turn personal excellence into technical leadership
The Microsoft Technical Leadership Development Program (TLDP) and similar initiatives aim to identify, develop and maintain ICs. It uses a broad set of principles that can be applied to any organization that wants to make the most of its technical talent and provide them with valid and fulfilling careers.
The first step for businesses is to identify members of their teams who fit the IC profile and demonstrate technical leadership potential outside of a traditional management career path. Evaluate their potential, commitment and aspirations. The path to technical leadership will not be for all ICs – only those who consistently show that they have the willingness and skills to engage in a broader context for the good of the company. Key leadership qualities include:
Campaign to seek success through solution discovery and innovation
Focus on continuous training and development to help your ICS progress. This includes exposing them to aspects of business outside of their general technical work and providing deeper exposure to areas and people within the organization that will help them think and act strategically.
ICS: Ready for a step in a new direction?
If you are an IC, you need to see what you have to drive.
You might notice Code Day, Day Out, but do you also aspire to help others, which they do? Do you enjoy it when you have the opportunity to explain complex concepts to various stakeholders throughout the business?
If you choose, you can become a major leader in your business, especially at a time when digital has become very important for companies’ futures.