Cerebyte’s Sofia program helps speed leadership transformation


In an earlier post, I referred to a situation where a technical leader used our Cerebyte Sofia online learning platform to develop a best practice in just 1.5 hours. The situation that prompted this initiative is a real and common problem in a lot of organizations.

Specifically, this organization recognized that the standard practice of promoting the best technical individual contributors to management often didn’t work very well. These high-performing individual contributors rarely developed into effective managers – often micromanaging the technical work. They were barely managing and the idea of evolving to be great leaders wasn’t even a consideration. Not surprisingly, this situation was not healthy for anyone. The new managers were overloaded and frustrated. Their teams were disenfranchised and lost productivity which was leading to turnover in hard to replace roles.

The traditional solution for this problem has been one of two approaches:

  • Send the new manager to a formal management 101 type of training course, which mainly focuses on the administrative role of the manager such as performance evaluation (sometimes with a little coaching thrown in)
  • Develop the coaching skills of the next level of manager to better guide the new manager

However, neither of these ideas has worked very well:

  • The training course, while the admin portions must be learned, otherwise provide little guidance on how to transition from a co-worker to their manager
  • The next level manager rarely has the knowledge or inclination to spend much time in developing their direct reports

This is where the work we did in our Cerebyte Sofia online program to create a comprehensive program for making the technical expert to technical group leader (skipping through the management phase) was so amazing. It addresses the reality of making this transition in a powerful and provocative way. For example, the purpose statement was all about creating a culture that empowered the team to make technical decisions

The Big Steps were about a path from understanding the alternative vision of the role to becoming a sustained strategic thinker and leader. The most intriguing part of the program were the tasks – which were reminders to think and act correctly. For instance, one of the tasks was “Take an hour of staff meeting time to elicit the team’s perception of their purpose and how each person’s work contributed to that purpose.” This builds the cultural foundation of alignment and empowerment. Another task is: “Identify three instances in the last week when I was tempted to answer a technical question or do the technical work, but didn’t. How did that work out?”

Because this type of program hardly takes any time to develop, any organization can develop a complete program for transitioning their technical people into leadership roles. And, because it is based on Sofia’s self-directed learning platform, whenever someone moves into a new role, the program is instantly available to them.

How does your organization develop its newly-promoted high-performing technical personnel into being effective leaders?

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