Career transition from Individual Contributor to People Leadership

3 min readJan 20, 2023
Photo by Javier Allegue Barros on Unsplash

Transitioning to a people leadership role can be a daunting task, especially for those with technical backgrounds or those who have been in individual contributor positions for an extended period. As a mentor, I have observed these concerns and misconceptions about leadership roles firsthand. My goal is to help you navigate these challenges and dispel common myths about leadership, so that you can become a successful and effective leader. Remember that you are not alone in this journey and there are many resources available to support you in your transition.

Have to leave coding and technical skills.

Many people believe that pursuing a leadership role means leaving behind technical skills and coding, but this is not the case. Your passion for coding and solving technical problems is not limited by your job title or role. As a leader, you will have the opportunity to continue developing your technical skills and using them to drive innovation and progress within your team and organization. Your passion for technology will always be a part of you, and you will find ways to incorporate it into your work, regardless of your position.

My performance is compared against tenured leaders.

It can be natural to feel pressure when your performance is compared to that of more experienced leaders, but it’s important to remember that every leader has their own unique journey and timeline. Instead of focusing on the comparison, prioritize your own personal and professional development by learning the core principles of leadership, gaining a deeper understanding of your team and work, building your professional network, and continuously improving in your role. Remember that each day presents an opportunity for growth and learning, and that your progress will be determined by your dedication to self-improvement, not by comparisons to others.

What if I pick the wrong team.

To ensure success in your new role as a leader, it is crucial to conduct thorough research and due diligence on the team and position you are applying for. This includes understanding the specific job duties and expectations, evaluating the alignment of the role with the company’s growth goals, assessing compatibility with your own leadership style and work ethics, and familiarizing yourself with the technology stack involved. By taking the time to carefully consider these factors, you can make a well-informed decision and avoid the potential pitfall of joining the wrong team.

Unsure about my leadership style.

It is not uncommon to feel unsure about one’s leadership style, especially if you have not had many opportunities to lead in the past. However, everyone has their own unique leadership strengths and qualities. To discover your own core leadership style, seek feedback from various sources such as your current or past leaders, colleagues, family, and friends. This will provide insight into your actions, behaviors, and communication style in various situations, both within and outside of work. This feedback will help you identify your strengths and areas for improvement, and will help you understand your core leadership qualities.

Failure to solve problems for team.

As a leader, it is important to recognize that problem-solving is a fundamental aspect of your role. However, it is not uncommon to encounter challenges that you may not know how to solve on your own. Instead of feeling discouraged by this, it’s important to seek out the guidance and support of more experienced leaders and peers. These individuals have likely faced similar challenges in the past and can provide valuable insight and solutions. Remember that leaders are human too, and it is okay to admit when you are unsure or have made a mistake. The most important thing is to be proactive in seeking out solutions and support for the benefit of your team.

Need to know all the tech stacks team is working on.

As a leader, it is important to have a strong understanding of the technical concepts and tools being used by your team, however, it is not necessary to have an expert-level knowledge of every single technology they are working on. Instead, focus on developing a strong foundation of basic concepts and an attitude of continuous learning. As you spend more time working with your team and understanding the domain, you will naturally build on your knowledge and understanding of the specific technologies they are using. Remember that the opportunity to learn and grow is always present and should be embraced.




Continuous learner | Mentor | Career Coach | Data/Api Engineer | Bibliophile