I am an engineer and worked as an individual contributor for msot of my career and is something I enjoyed doing. Last year though I took up a new job where I became a lead - now have ppl reporting to me.

I am however struggling a lot as a leader. I sometimes am not able to get basic issues raised at the right time or plan out the overall activities for the team well enough. I am more concerned that my inability to do well in this will hit the entire team - which is doing a great job and very motivated.

I never led a team before this and want to go back to being an IC where I find myself comfortable and more imp - to ensure that mistakes from me don't affect the hard work put in by everyone in the team.

I know that my team badly needs some senior IC roles and want to take up one of those. How do I ensure that I have a smooth transition from being a manager to an IC? Is there a disadvantage or something negative attached to going from manager to IC role?


Maybe not the answer you are looking for, but good leaders are focused on the needs of the team and are working to make the team successful. It sounds like you have good motivations as a leader. Any company that is serious about promoting technical people to leadership positions will be familiar with the common struggles.

I would encourage you to discuss the areas you are struggling with with your boss. There are soft skills and leadership training courses he or she might be able to send you on to help you out. Your boss might also be able to set up regular sessions to coach you or review your plans with you as you get used leading the team. Remember that your boss should have the same motivation: to make his or her team (including you) successful.


Managing people is way harder that most ICs think it is.

When you are an IC you have control over what you do and how you do it. Your major concern is to deliver what you need to deliver.

When you are a manager, you have more control over what needs to get done, but less control on how (and sometimes if) it gets done. Dealing with people is especially difficult.

There is a 3rd path, that sometimes works: you are a technical lead, but do not bear the responsibility of actual management. The manager that has the responsibility shows you how it's done and coaches you.

This way you get to shift from IC to Manager and get a gentle introduction on what follows. Sometimes I've seen people sticking to this role and offloading the manager only at certain times when it makes sense.

  • 2
    +1 for the tech lead angle. If you are uncomfortable with the management side of things, I would talk to your supervisor and explain the issue. Propose that you get 'side-promoted' to a tech lead instead of the management position, explain why. Admitting your own faults and 'incompetence' is very rarely seen as a sign of weakness, normally it is seen as a good sign that you are able to self-reflect and are concerned with what's best for the company. – Cronax Mar 10 '15 at 10:42

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