By Edwin M Valladares, MS, RPSGT

I’ve heard many techs assume they will get into management positions by shear desire and seniority. However, the fact is that it takes ability to lead and manage a team, group, lab, clinic or company. To develop ability, we all need direction for growth, a lighthouse if you will. Growth comes through mentors, formal education and continuous reading. The tips in this series are snapshots for quick insight for technical professionals that want to develop leadership skills.

I decided to call these tips Leadership for Technical Professionals, because to lead or manage others we need to learn to lead ourselves. Moreover, unless you are establishing a company or developing a program from scratch you will manage people. Sharpening leadership skills will accentuate the execution of managerial duties. Lastly, I decided to concentrate on leadership, because my eyes were opened to leadership when I had finished my undergraduate education 20 years ago. I had majored in Biomedical Engineering and noticed I hadn’t been required to take any managerial or interpersonal skills courses as part of my technical training. I soon found myself establishing sleep labs for research centers and later for hospitals and I needed guidance. My guidance came from mentors, books and supplemental courses. What I discovered was that technical skill does not equate leadership ability.

Historically, I have read leadership books that concentrate on overarching leadership themes. I tend to think practically, so I will provide examples on how these themes play out in real life. Especially, coming from a technical background I appreciate such examples, because I tend to be pragmatic and methodical. I usually think in formulas. Life is not always A + B = C, but establishing principles to use in various situations helps. Some of the topics that will be covered in this series are:

  • Service mindset leadership
  • Leaders know how to lead and how to follow
  • Competence
  • Leadership Tips from Established Leaders
  • Hiring for an optimal team


Edwin M. Valladares is the Manger of the Sleep Disorders Center at Keck Medical Center of USC where he manages the sleep clinic, sleep lab, coordinates the USC Center for Sleep Health Using Bioengineering (SleepHuB), and lectures to Sleep Medicine and Neurophysiology fellows. He is also an Adjunct Professor at Life Pacific University (formerly Life Pacific College) where he teaches the Integrated Life Science Laboratory and is a Board Member of the California Sleep Society (2016-2020).