This is my job now?

Blog | May 17, 2022

An engineer who climbed the ranks into leadership, Jonas spent 15 years with one company. He is one of the only clients I’ve met who has been at one role for so long in the tech industry! He leads a global team of 100, only three steps removed from the CEO.

A self-avowed perfectionist, Jonas laughed as he told me what finally got him towork with a coach. “I just got promoted,” he said, “and… I’m uncomfortable. I barely get to touch code. I barely even talk to my people.”

“In my old role, I knew where I stood. Now, I can’t tell when I’m doing a good job or not.”

As liaison between the CTO, the product team, and compliance, he had more opportunities for strategic impact than ever before. But the thought of “schmoozing” with these colleagues, and even engaging in the “office politics” made his eyes roll and his skin crawl. 

Like Jonas, many rising leaders are surprised when they need to make the shift from managing deliverables to leading through people—including people who don’t report to you. (Hint: It’s the unwritten job description no one tells you about.)

Always the self-starter, as a technical SME, Jonas had always met his OKRs with flying colors. He now needed new ways to measure his success.

We focused on developing the skills that would make building relationships with the rest of the C-suite easier, and more effective. It definitely pushed Jonas out of his comfort zone of coding and doing.

Jonas admitted that he wasn’t sure if this new role was what he really wanted. Holding that with curiosity we helped him build skills around communicating more proactively and effectively with his peers.

Soon, the role gave him an opportunity: a fraught political situation in a project that fell under Jonas’ direction. Two key stakeholders were at odds, bringing progress to a halt. They weren’t even talking to each other.

The situation was not going to resolve itself. Jonas got them into the same room with himself as mediator. His presence made it possible for the right conversations to happen.

On the other side of that meeting, the project was again advancing.

Not only did it have the potential to add millions in revenue, it helped attract investors. In the end, one half-hour meeting had an impact greater than anything Jonas had ever coded.

“I can’t believe this is my job now,” Jonas told me, with a sense of awe instead of the disappointment he had three months earlier.

“This is it,” I confirmed. “and the impact is exponential.”

Ask yourself: Are you measuring success in the ways that matter most right now? Are you reaching goals through your people or “handling it” yourself? Which working relationships could be smoother, more effective?

C-suite leaders add value through relationships, but even the best-prepared rising star never gets practice at this level. Our coaches equip you to tap the potential of your people—and yourself. Contact us for a complimentary discovery call.

Rachel Rider
Executive Coach, Leadership Consultant