Why most techies suck at management

They say “After first two levels in a hierarchy, every profile is essentially managerial”. Well, even if the statement is guilty of taking some cinematic liberty to paint management larger than life, if you look at the KRAs and JDs, or hear the feedback remarks in the tedious performance appraisal meetings, you realize that the truth isn’t very far from it. It is not for nothing that people still count MBA as the sure-shot way to ‘move up’ or ‘move out’!

Yup! Most people working in core ‘technical profiles’ still count their inadequacy in management and soft-skills as their biggest bottleneck, and the acquisition of these skills as their best route to career nirvana. But what is it that makes these tech-rookies as well as veteran techies found wanting on these skills? Is there a missing-piece of the puzzle? Is it that ‘one either has it or cannot have’? Well, before we discuss further, watch this video to get the gist of the matter…



Yes. Abilities are less about innate talents and more about reinforcement. You keep getting better at the things that you give more time, energy and attention to. It is all about applying yourself aptly. And this applies not only to cognitive & technical skills but for interpersonal skills. Without relevant exposure and consistent engagement, even interpersonal skills get weakened, and through these factors, these skills can be strengthened again. Well, like for any other behavior, the root of this point lies in neuroscience.

If we will look at our brain then we will find that the brain network which is primarily involved in the executive functions like information processing, planning, problem solving, analysis etc. is located in the lateral and outer portion of the brain. On the contrary, as Mathew Lieberman, one of the founders of social cognitive neuroscience, says “then there are regions more involved in the midline or the middle areas, which are related to self-awareness, social cognition, empathy etc.”

Interestingly, both these networks are inversely correlated. When one gets activated, the other one starts getting deactivated. This point suggests that there is something inversely correlated about social and nonsocial abilities. Yes! The networks you pay attention to are the ones that grow. If you will spend a lot of time in cognitive tasks, your social abilities will get reduced simply because that circuitry is not coming into use. Well, but to appreciate this fact, social & emotional intelligence is needed.

This ‘emotional & social intelligence’ is about one’s understanding of the structure and functioning of human brain, and how they influence people’s responses and choices. This important blend of neuroscience and psychology forms the basis for learning emotional & social intelligence – the skill of managing self and connecting with others. Yes, this all-important skill of all intrapersonal & interpersonal skills can be learnt, practiced and mastered. However, it all begins with some important realizations like…“Abilities are less about innate talents and more about reinforcement”.


Dr. Sandeep Atre

‘Emotional & Social Intelligence’ Expert

Founder – Socialigence

Note: Socialigence (www.socialigence.net) offers self-paced video-based online course on ‘Social & Emotional Intelligence’ with content that has relevance across the globe, and delivery specifically customized according to the work-scenarios in India.