Can any ass become a leader?

What is a more crucial technical skill or leadership skill?

The most common complaint that I keep receiving from team members is, “I am more skilled than my leader/manager, then why does he gets paid more than me? Why am I not being promoted to a Leader?

Do you think that only having technical or operational skills makes you eligible to become a leader?

On the first day of my MBA, a professor told a story about the fight between the human organs. One day, he said, there was a big fight between all the organs of our body to decide who was more important and how to become a leader? Each organ tried to put its point like eye, ear, nose etc. The mind said I am the most critical organ as I control and monitor everything, and the fight continued. The ass was listening to everybody, and instead of making any claims, it decided to go on strike the next day and created chaos in the body’s digestive system. None of the organs could perform appropriately, and the mind was so disturbed and did not feel comfortable, and every organ agreed that an ass is more important and can be a leader! You do not need much skill; any ‘ass’ can become a leader! My teacher told me!

Of course, this was a story for fun, but it does give us a clue about the common conflict we see in the organization; who is more important? Is it technical/subject skills or managerial skills?

If we ask this question, each group will indeed say that they are more important than the other one, and they might be correct from their standpoint; however, if we look at this question from the organization’s standpoint, it creates a different picture. Of course, every individual or department has an important role, but while making a strategy and planning, we need to give some ranking. This ranking usually does not go with the practical logic we may apply; it has many variables that employees are generally unaware of.

The standard objection that I have observed in all the developers or expert programmers is they do not like to do any documentation. They hate PowerPoint/excel/word; they say this is not our job; we are developers and understand only code. This is fine if you work individually as a freelancer or with a small team of engineers; if you are happy and satisfied with your growth and profile with such a role, it is wonderful. However, working in an organization or large team becomes a little complex to grow only with technical skills.

As expert programmers, we may find reporting and presentation activities unproductive. Still, we must understand that decisions are taken based on the data, not on the perception of skills. The planning and strategies are based on analytics and the matrix generated by data.

For example, in the military, the role of a soldier is significant, and he is the person who faces the bullets, not the commander; however, if you are solder and want to grow to a higher rank, you are expected to develop other skills. In the same way, if you’re going to grow on a higher level, you need to have different skills than having your technical skills; once you reach the decision-making stage, the reporting and data become very important.

As a programmer or engineers, we may not agree. Still, the fact is individual who takes part in the decision-making process and take ownership plays a leadership role and always have a better opportunity.

In Mahabharat, when Bhim asks a question to a miner who created for them a Subterranean Passage, he does not reply. Bhim gets a little upset and says, “You do not talk nicely,” the minder says, “ You are right; I am a mining expert and not at talking and let me do my work if you want to save your life.” This is perfectly fine for a miner as he would be a miner for a life!

I think this is an individual choice if you want to remain a technical person for life or change your role. However, it is challenging to grow just with one talent. Suppose you are working in a team and want to go higher in ranking; people skills, decision-making skills, leadership and taking ownership become more critical.


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