Technical Skills Got You Here But They Won’t Get You There

Many of us are familiar with this career scenario. We work hard to learn and master every technical part of our job in order to be recommended for the next promotion. We receive praise for the value we added to a project where we were able to utilize every bit of technical knowledge we were taught. We consider ourselves a SME (subject matter expert) in our field and hope this will help move us along our career path. Up until now, we have been rewarded for our expertise and knowledge. But then we get tripped up with this feedback:

“ Although you have strong marketing skills, it seems like you are having a difficult time communicating your message.”

“ We really appreciate how you streamlined that process, but to move to the next position you need to be less pushy and more open to other people’s suggestions.” 

“Your technical skills are top notch but to lead the team forward you need to gain experience with being patient with different types of personalities.”

 At this point we may want to scream- “I’ve done everything they’ve asked and always turn out a professional product. What am I missing that will prevent my next move?” Leadership skills.

Here are five leadership skills that may make a difference between growing into an impactful leader or staying a technical expert:


We may be experts in our areas but that doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t be listening to others. Listening is a very powerful skill because when we use it properly we learn what our team members are thinking and feeling. A few ways to show that we are strategically listening are:

  • Allow your co-worker to speak their entire message without interrupting
  • Make sure to use eye contact as that shows we are involved in the conversation
  • Ask appropriate open-ended questions that begin with who, what, where and how
  • Don’t jump to conclusions but listen to really understand


Even if we feel our ideas and procedures are best, it is always a good idea to ask others for their suggestions. They might just tweak one of our strategies to make it even better. But more than anything else, when we respect what our colleagues have to share, we build stronger connections with them. Without respecting each other’s input, collaborations are dead on arrival.


To understand our own unique style of leadership, we need to first become aware of how we are communicating and behaving. Do you know how you are coming across to others? To grow in our careers and lead from wherever we are, we need to become aware of our actions. Using an assessment such as DiSC or Myers-Briggs can provide each of us with extraordinary insights of how others may see us. It is a great place to start our leadership exploration.


Once we discover our natural or preferred style of communication and presentation, it is critical to understand the other styles to connect with others in a meaningful way.

  • If we are working with someone who needs to build a relationship before partnering on their project, we may want to spark a conversation first
  • If we are giving feedback on research we did for someone who isn’t particularly detailed oriented, then present your findings in bullet points
  • If we are meeting with someone who isn’t loud even though we may be, just tone it down a bit and give them an opportunity to speak


To move into that next leadership role, decide on the type of leader you want to represent. How do you want to be viewed by co-workers and bosses? It’s helpful to be as authentic as possible and play to your preferred style. Thinking of leaders in your life who have had a positive impact on you can help also.

How have you moved from here to there in your career? What leadership skills have you found most helpful?

 (Image Credit: Pixabay)


If you would like some help in building your leadership model just let me know.



4 thoughts on “Technical Skills Got You Here But They Won’t Get You There

  1. I truly believe that understanding our own learning style is one of the most important things we can focus on, especially in quick-moving situations. One of the first things I try to understand when working with others is this: are they auditory, visual, or feeling? Sometimes just knowing what kind of language to frame a question or response can make all the difference….

  2. It can be so helpful in how we share information with other team members if we understand how they process information and communicate. The third style that you are referring to is kinesthetic. That style describes people who need to touch or work with information to digest it.I once worked with someone who had to always write everything down to remember it. If I just spoke to them about something they wouldn’t effectively deal with it just by hearing my spoken words.

    Thanks LaRae for your wonderful additions!

  3. I appreciate that you challenge us to ask ourselves what kind of leader we want to be. When we create a picture of who we want to be, we start to be able to get a clear picture of our current behaviors and choices and make choices in service of moving closer to that vision.

    Will share! Nodding along the entire way!


  4. Identifying the the way we want to lead encompasses how we communicate and present ourselves to others. Sometimes understanding who we want to be begins with reflecting on leaders we most admired in our professional and personal lives. Recognizing those important qualities and behaviors in leaders who have positively impacted us can help create the leadership strategies we want too.

    Thanks Alli!

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