Transitioning into an "oversight" leadership role

Hi elphas!

I've been working as an "individual contributor" for the past 10 years at a number of different companies, and I'm now being tasked with moving into an "oversight" role. This means I won't be "doing" the work, but I'll be coaching others on how to do it and taking more leadership of how things are done. I'm honestly a bit terrified. I hate telling people what to do and feel awkward doing it... It's also fuzzy because I'm not in a "people manager" position, so I need to focus on coaching through the work, but not managing the people. I am very strong as an IC, but I don't really feel strong in the leadership area.

Does anyone have advice about how to do this? Resources, tips, and advice are all welcome.


You'll get used to it :) - it does take some getting used to. The people putting you in this position believe you are capable otherwise they wouldn't be asking! You'll likely be a good manager because of your interest in doing the work, it's so much nicer working with managers who can go through it with you if need the extra help & they tend to have a better understanding and appreciation of the work involved.
NickieRyan's profile thumbnail
The Leadership Pipeline is a GREAT book which addresses the transition point from IC to Leader. Sounds like you've done some self reflection of your skills and style. Doing that goes a long way, and don't be afraid to ask other successful leaders (maybe your past boss) what they think makes a good leader. It's different for everyone and every team, you'll find what works for you. My "good leader" tip: How you lead will look different for each team AND each person. A leader should be able to pick out the nuanced needs and provide what motivates that specific situation to yield the best experience & work output. Best of luck! You've got this!!
emilyparcell's profile thumbnail
I've been in this role before where you're setting aside responsibility for doing the work and now the value you deliver is based on your ability to lead and influence others, without necessarily having management responsibility for them. There are certainly resources out there that might help with some of the new responsibilities you might have like how to give good feedback or how to set expectations. Ultimately, I found that the most effort that I had to put in was around changing my mindset around what value I brought, how my success was measured, etc., as well as getting to know what sat beneath my discomfort with parts of the role (like settings expectations for and providing feedback on others' work). The work of a leader requires a good deal of introspection. :)