So You Want To Be A Manager

Pivoting from Individual Contributor to a Manager

June 13, 2019

Posted: June 13, 2019

Dilbert Comic Strip by Scott Adams - What color do you want your database

Throughout one’s career progression an individual contributor (IC) will likely consider a pivot into management. Before jumping in head first there are points of consideration that a given IC should explore deeply and seriously consider prior to delving into a management role.

It’s important to note that one should be able to articulate the details behind their interest in becoming a manager beyond “because I think I’d be good at it”. Management is a selfless role that requires self awareness, patience, resilience, constant communication, foresight, high emotional intelligence and much more. Think long and hard while exploring the pros and cons in what the conversion may entail.


Charity Majors has two great articles that tackle this topic well, and are worth the read:

  1. The Engineer/Manager Pendulum
  2. Engineering Management: The Pendulum or the Ladder

Areas of Exploration

  1. Why do you want to be a manager?

  2. What do you envision as the role and responsibilities of a manager? Job title aside, what’s preventing you from achieving that now as an individual contributor?

  3. What do you hope to gain from this career change?

  4. Why do you think you would succeed as a manager?

  5. What are gaps within your skillset that could hinder you as a manager?

  6. What do you see as the difference between leadership and management, or is there?

  7. What are you most excited about contributing to: strategy, tactical execution, day-to-day technical solutioning?

  8. Are you willing to delegate work while empowering others to deliver results?

  9. Can you separate your contributions from the code and allow your team to explore solutioning without your detailed input and technical direction?

  10. Are you willing to put yourself last to do what’s right behind the company, product and team needs?