'I want to be a manager too!'

Some really good techno-functional talent goes waste when people see a management role as default career progression.

To be fair, there is reason behind this madness too. Some organizations fail to create a proper identity for senior technical roles. Database Administrators become Senior Database Administrators. You can only squeeze so much out of the 'Senior' prefix there. But a Senior Manager can become a Director or VP some day. Pair those with the 'Senior' tags and you have more golden rungs up the ladder. As enchanting as this career path looks, many highly successful engineers lament their shift to a management role. The work is usually quite different. Meetings, spreadsheets and presentations dominate the day. Brainstorming sessions sap more energy than late night focused work on tangible problems. Patience, keeping a smile on, calmly listening to people are 'essential skills'. A far different world from certifications and years of work on a technology.

There is a long list of traits that make someone a good candidate for a managerial position. But I can think of a much shorter list of traits that beg for a person to continue in a core technical or functional role.

Here are the red flags to watch out for before taking the leap:
  1. Respect thy elders: I am ashamed of asking for updates from people, especially senior folks with far more expertise than me.
  2. No, this is how you do it: There's a complex task on hand. If someone's slow at 'getting it', I'd much rather do it myself.
  3. Type not talk: Given the choice between having a conversation and writing an email, I will (always) go with the email.
  4. Don't get me angry: I get offended when I hear negative feedback or even rumors of someone being dissatisfied with me. I'm going to set the record straight immediately.
  5. Motivate thyself: People should be self-motivated, driven. I know I am. I enjoy my work. Why can't they?

This is, of course, not a definitive list. See any traits you'd like add or remove from that list? Email me at

Published: 24 Apr 2015.


All views expressed here are my own and not endorsed by my employer or any other company. Cases presented do not necessarily relate to my employer, peers or team. - Vikrant