Many people associate career growth with the need to go into management, but this not so. There is no doubt that one path to career progression, both in terms of money and impact, can be to lead others. But, you can lead other without managing them. Most larger corporations, as an example, have what is called a dual track. They have parallel titles, levels, and compensation for individuals who are expert in a skill but who do not manage others.

To rise up such a track you must develop your core skill in your profession to be finely tuned and to be worth additional money. You must raise your value to the company so where they feel your impact merits a bigger title and more compensation.

No matter how skilled you are at your craft, whether finance, art, law, or another specific skill, there will come a time where you probably need to lead in some degree even though you do not manage. Management means specifically directing other people, including the “human resources” aspects, such as compensation, reviews, and complaints or problems. To grow, you do not need to take on these duties. But you will need to develop the ability to explain your expert work to others and to help them make the overall project or product more valuable based on your input. You may want to work on your craft in isolation, but this is rarely possible in a corporation.

Join us on Wednesday, November 13, at 6 PM PST at, for a live discussion of how to succeed as an individual who does not wish to leave your current career to become a manager. To ask questions or vote on what questions Ethan should answer, go here.