One of the frequent challenges that leaders face is Expertise. I find a lot of leaders claiming that they are not technical and I have also seen people speak of it as if it were an accolade that they have been made a leader of an area without any knowledge of that technology or process. None of us have started our careers as leaders but have grown to be leaders.
Generally we start on the technical side and the organization notices our abilities to do more than implementing technology and promote us to being leaders. Once you become a leader, you are expected to lead any area as long as you are leading a team. There are some positives and negatives to this approach.
As you traverse through your leadership journey, you will be made the leader of a team where you do not have a clue of the technologies and processes that your team is responsible for. You cannot run a restaurant successfully without knowing how to cook. Similarly you cannot be successful as a leader without knowing the technologies and processes of your team/area. They are experts in their areas and they know their work very well so, what meaningful role do you have? How do you then gain their respect and above all add value?
Few things i have done to be successful in such scenarios are: Learn the technologies and processes, you do not need to achieve expertise or get certified but you cannot survive by being a novice. None of our technologies are rocket science, so do not be lazy or hide behind excuses of time and other priorities. To be able to add any meaningful value to your team and the organisation you should gain intermediate level of understanding. That is when you can make sound decisions, understand what your team members are doing, and most importantly ask great questions and steer the team strategically. Learning and keeping pace with the industry is of utmost importance, some ways to do it is, reading on the web, watching youtube videos, attending classroom sessions, interacting with industry experts like Gartner or Forrester and finally meeting people from other organizations within the same space. This will give you strategic insights with which you can challenge your team to do more and also provides a long term direction to your organization.
Summary: The bottom line is that you should "Know your Turf !". If you do not spend time and energy on learning about your area, you are killing that leadership role and the organization. Only through constant learning, you and your organization can move forward !
– Samuel Seelam