For many technologists, the ultimate career goal is management, whether guiding a small team or taking the corporate reins as CTO or even CEO. While climbing the ladder hinges to a certain degree on one’s technical skills and successfully completing tasks, a great deal also depends on your “soft skills” such as communication and empathy.
But how can you actually deploy those soft skills in the “right way”? How can you ensure that your goals and agendas intersect in an optimal way with the goals of everyone across the company? Here are some quick tips from Dice’s new Ultimate Guide to a Successful Technology Career:
The Art of Active Listening
Good relationships begin with listening. Carve out time to listen to others’ concerns; ask about their goals and what drives them. Once you understand their issues and motivations, you can begin to construct a positive relationship.
Act Like a Marketer
It’s not enough to simply voice your ideas and concerns: You actively need to market them to stakeholders around you. Utilize your empathy, and picture how achieving your ends can benefit those folks on other teams. Once you explain those benefits to them, they’re much more likely to get onboard.
Be Incredibly Customer-Oriented
Whether your customers are external (i.e., people in the outside world who buy a product you help produce) or internal (i.e., teams and stakeholders you serve by building and maintaining the tech stack), it’s important to sit down with them and figure out what they really want, and how you can help them achieve that. No individual or team exists in a bubble; and rising as a leader depends on the results you achieve in conjunction with others.
Be Ready to Manage Difficult Situations
Not every meeting is productive, and not every team member or executive is automatically on your side. Instead of wasting time and energy on direct confrontation when conflicts arise, figure out how to productively manage the relationship. Positivity is key, as well as anticipating their complaints. Make sure your feedback is always a mix of positive things, as well as issues to be addressed in a constructive manner.
As you interview for management positions, make sure to emphasize how well you’ve worked with teams in the past, and how your management skills have led to concrete, positive outcomes. If you can demonstrate your aptitude at influencing and inspiring others, you’ll persuade upper management to give you a shot at more responsibility.