Ten Skills for Technical Professionals When they Become a Manager: Know Who is In the Know

Named by Inc. as one of the top 100 leadership speakers, Shelley Row, P.E., is an engineer and former government and association executive. Shelley’s leadership work focuses on developing insightful leaders who can see beyond the data.

Technical professionals with excellent skills and attention to detail are often offered the opportunity to become managers.  Yet the same skills that make them superb at their jobs don’t always transition well into the skills managers need to lead a team. This 10-part series over the next few months will guide you into the development of those needed soft-skills so you can excel as a technical manager.  For a summary post on all 10 skills, click here.

In part two of our series, let’s take a look for the special person in your organization who knows how to get things done. That “in the know” person is the one YOU need to get to know. How do you find him or her?  Here are some clues from my Management Training for Technical Managers series.

This person typically:

  • Is very well connected (they are on at least friendly terms with most of the people in the workplace, no matter their job descriptions)
  • Knows some of the “secrets” of the organization, such as political or personnel issues
  • Is reasonably well-liked by most people at the workplace (they know how to get along with others)
  • Has an uncanny way to get things done (is resourceful and well-organized, but beyond that knows how to deal with a variety of people.)
  • May or may not have “formal” power yet has a lot of influence.

I discovered this special person by accident.  One of my staff members was struggling in her current role, despite skill in some areas.  In a sudden moment of clarity, I discerned that her greatest skill was getting things done through organizational connections.  She knew… 

  • People’s secrets
  • Who cared about what
  • Who pulled what strings
  • The struggles and successes of most of the individuals on staff. 

I created a Chief of Staff position for her, and she excelled.

video presentation

 Let’s take a look for the special person in your organization who knows how to get things done.


Now think about your office.  Who has these key characteristics? 

  • Is the staff confidant. He/she knows birthdays, anniversaries, family situations, worries, and more.
  • Knows how to get things done by leveraging positive relationships and resources.
  • Knows some of the insider political information
  • Has his/her ear to the ground and picks up on details especially regarding people. 

In some cases, don’t be surprised if this person is one of the admins/executive assistants/office managers.  Administrative jobs require handling many details while maintaining confidentiality.  Many admins connect with people of all levels in the organization. He or she may already have the relationships and she knows what to say to get your items moved to the top of the list. 

Get to know this well-connected person, not just because they can be helpful in your job, but because their skills with people make them worth knowing and learning from. 

I go much deeper into this topic in my training webinars, including Top 10 Skills for Technical Managers.  I hope you’ll check it out.


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