I was in the same boat several times myself so I know your pain. My rule of thumb is that every developer should be a project manager at least through two releases. Being a project manager shows you a whole different side to software development to which most engineers are blind. When I did shift back to being an engineer, I was amazed at how much better a developer I became. Having walked a mile in managers' shoes, I understood much better what they were asking for and why various things I used to think were stupid were actually quite important. Of course, there are many things about being a project manager that are difficult for us introverted engineers to acquire such as people management skills. But overall, it's a worthwhile experience necessary for you to grow as an engineer.
This was first published in January 2001