A debate : Whether Project managers need to contribute to the core of the project or just manage and track ?

Last week my friend Ramesh shared one HBR article: why-technical-experts-make-great-leaders
It reminded me of old Steve Jobs interview.
Steve Jobs in his ” First Macintosh team video (1985)” quoted this

We were in stage where we went out and thought, Oh! We gonna be a big company, so let’s hire professional management. We went and hired a bunch of professional management but it didn’t work out all well. Most of them were bozos, they knew how to manage but they didn’t how to do anything! So, if you are a great person, why would you want to work with someone you can’t learn anything from? You know what’s interesting? You know who the best managers are? They are the great individual contributors who never ever want to be a manager but decide they have to be manager because no one else is gonna do a job as good as them

Which is in alignment with podcost

As it turns out, people managed by experts are much more engaged in their work than people who are managed by generalists, people who might be good administrators but who can’t actually do the surgery, or shoot the three-pointer.

In another interview Steve quoted this

he greatest people are self managing. They don’t need to be managed. Once they know what to do, they will go figure out how to do it. They don’t need to be managed at all. What they need is a common vision. And that’s what leadership is. What leadership means is having a vision and being able to articulate that , so the people around you can understand it and getting a consensus on a common vision

Personally I feel sound technical knowledge helps the project managers in following ways :

1. They can empathize the feeling of the team members who are building the solution
2. They can estimate the work and quantify the output
3. They will be able to support the team
4. They can be substitute team member ( For example, resource missed the bus , but the task is to be done)
5. Team members will have a feel of “one among us ”

Other school of thought : Project managers not necessarily know anything about technology so that they can have better customer focus and can give different perspective to the team.

Technical experts put efforts and take risks showing their courage, while managers set the purpose and direction by tracking and measuring.

Stop doing, start leading is the thought process of this school

Task management , time management, Work breakdown are the characteristics of Project Managers (in TCS parlance Timesheet, SPEED, WSR etc)

What is your view ?

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