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As a recovering IT engineer, technical project manager, director of corporate project management and no CEO, I can tell you that this question is THE ubiquitous leadership challenge.

There is the subject matter domain, and then there is the leadership domain. Knowing a lot of details in the subject matter domain risks the malady of micromanaging the details and thus failing in the leadership role to get project participants to take initiative and responsibility for their piece. Knowing too little of the subject matter domain risks being able to detect project problems early on, and to effectively lead and facilitate the solving of technically-complex issues and problems.

The idea situation is to focus on the leadership (the PM discipline skills and execution) while also owning subject matter mastery, but with the self-awareness of the risks for this... and apply the self-discipline to give the reins of decision-making control to the appropriate project resources... and only be there to coach and guide as needed.

There is a line where too little or too much subject matter expertise is a risk to the PM's capability to succeed. However, it is more important to be an excellent PM.

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