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The Programmer’s Guide to Breaking into Management

In an article for Infoworld, Paul Heltzel notes that successful software development requires leaders and producers. Are you an excellent producer yet strive to be a leader? Heltzel gathers industry insights into how to make the transition.

The Will to Power

For starters, realize management is not all about cheerily guiding people to greatness. It is also about having a tolerance for criticism and monitoring risks, in addition to being able to make hard decisions that might alienate some former colleagues. If you can handle those things, then next make sure you are exceling in your current role. Ask yourself if you would make a good leader of your current team, and figure out why or why not. A critical part of leadership is being able to look beyond your immediate circumstances, in order to both think objectively and envision how a good future state should look.

When you are ready, express to your boss your desire to get on a management path, and discuss what skills you should further develop in the pursuit of that goal. Pursuing certifications may help, but mentoring under someone else will yield benefits and demonstrate your eagerness too. The particular value of mentoring is that you can actually watch leadership in action, removing any abstract components. You can likewise be a mentor yourself for junior developers, to show you can guide people.

The biggest change from developer to leader is that, instead of building a great product yourself directly, you mostly support and facilitate the process of other people building that great product. In other words, your great value as a leader is in your communication and coordination skills. You make sure all the parts move in tandem, never grinding to a halt.

And one last tip—dress like you already are a manager. It creates a mental cue to the actual managers that you are an up-and-comer. You can view the original article here:

About John Friscia

John Friscia is the Editor of Computer Aid's Accelerating IT Success. He began working for Computer Aid, Inc. in 2013 and continues to provide graphic design support for AITS. He graduated summa cum laude from Shippensburg University with a B.A. in English.

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