By Paola Pascual on Dec 16, 2021 3:12:04 PM
Leadership skills are pivotal in today’s high tech industry. Whether you run your own business, lead a whole department, manage a small team, or aim to get a promotion, being a good leader will help you thrive. Now, do the different definitions of good leadership apply also to the high tech industry?
The technology sector is very unique, as it is fast-paced and ever-changing, almost by definition. So how can one learn how to be a good leader in a world where change is intrinsic to the industry?
Over several years working with leaders in international technology companies, these are the qualities that we’ve identified as key to being an effective leader in the technology sector.
10 Qualities Of A Good Leader In Today’s High Tech Industry
Many traits and skills make a good leader. However, we have selected those which are fundamental to leaders working in the high tech industry. (Apologies in advance for all the references and quotes from Alice in Wonderland; they just happen to fit in just fine.)
#1 You can handle a fast-paced work environment
"Now, here, you see, it takes all the running you can do to keep in the same place. If you want to get somewhere else, you must run at least twice as fast as that!"
Rapid change, rising market opportunities, and new customer needs –all the time– are the only constants in the tech industry. This means that for your organization to remain what it is now, you need to constantly adapt. You need to think of new ways to do things, quickly. “Success today requires the agility and drive to constantly rethink, reinvigorate, react, and reinvent,” Bill Gates said. For you to be a good leader in this sector, you must be able to handle this pace and understand that, oftentimes, it does “take all the running you can do to keep in the same place”.
- Cultivate resilience
- Learn to live with constant change
- Be strategic and learn to delegate
- Act quickly
#2 You prioritize learning
"Curioser and curioser.”
Great leaders in high tech understand the power of being curious. Learning is fundamental in today’s digital world and top managers are constantly looking for improvement and development (theirs and their teams’).
- Stay curious and open to learning
- Practice active listening
- Help your teams reach their full potential
- Offer alternatives for learning in your organization (mentoring, language training, 1:1 sessions…)
#3 You look to the future and are open to new ways of doing things
“But it's no use going back to yesterday, because I was a different person then.”
“This is how we’ve always done things” is often the recipe of failure. Unlearning is as important –if not more– than learning. Be open to new ways of doing things. Look at younger generations and listen to their suggestions. Look outside of your organization and explore other paths and strategies. Translate new technology developments into new business opportunities. Use and apply new solutions in fields where they weren’t implemented before. Renew and transform business models. Understand that what worked in the past might not work anymore because you “were a different person –or organization– then”.
- Don’t get stuck in old ways of doing things
- Unlearn what doesn’t work anymore
- Look at how others are doing it and see if you can improve on it
- Explore new strategies
#4 You stay true to yourself
“Who in the world am I?” Ah, that’s the great puzzle.”
You are not just trying to figure out the world that surrounds you, but also attempting to determine who you are and what your role truly is within your organization. The digital world and its constant changes actively challenges your perspective and sense of self, but don’t let these dynamics affect you. Of course, this ecosystem demands continuous adaptation, but good leaders need to be genuine and true to their beliefs. Even through hard times. Despite the outside world and all the difficulties you may need to undergo –including leading through a global pandemic and the Great Resignation. Understand that you cannot be everyone and do everything well all the time, and that is OK. Figure out who you are (“ah, the great puzzle”) and what you can offer, and strengthen those skills.
- Stay true to yourself
- Understand that you cannot be everyone and do everything well all the time, and that is OK
- Know your value and make the most of it
#5 But also accept –and embrace– change
“I know who I WAS when I got up this morning, but I think I must have been changed several times since then”
Maintain a flexible mindset, also about yourself, and be willing to explore new avenues. Dare to change your specialization or go for a different strategy. Don’t worry if things steer away from the initial plan. You are not really going back to the drawing board, but expanding possibilities and building up on what you already know. It’s all about adaptation and growth.
- Accept and embrace change
- Dare to steer away from the initial plan
- Focus on growth and adaptation
#6 You are able to communicate in a clear and concise way
“Begin at the beginning,” the King said gravely, “and go on till you come to the end: then stop.”
Clear communication is a non-negotiable skill for being a good leader, especially in the tech world. At some point, you will need to explain technical messages to non-technical people, transfer complex ideas from one team member to another, or simplify an intricate vision to your whole team. When you need to do so, clear and concise communication will be your best allies. To convey a complex idea, start by explaining the circumstances (using short sentences) and, then, lay out the different steps in sequential order (aka “begin at the beginning”). This step sounds logical and reasonable, yet we often start our stories in the middle (or at the end)!
Effective communication is not only about transmitting information, but also about inspiring and coaching others. It is about being able to listen to, and communicate with, a wide range of people across roles, geographies, social identities, and more. Some cultures, for example, expect explicit, specific messages, while others tend to rely on context between the lines. Some cultures show emotion more readily than others. Help your team members and managers in your organization navigate cross-cultural communication.
- Start by providing context
- Write short paragraphs
- Use bullet points in sequential order
- Start sentences with strong verbs
- Avoid jargon -use simple words
- Use analogies, examples, and metaphors
- Adapt your communication style to the role and culture of the other people
Related article: 14 Simple Rules That Will Make You A Better Communicator
#7 You are a good storyteller
“And what is the use of a book," thought Alice, "without pictures or conversation?”
Storytelling will help you communicate for alignment and make sure that your team members both understand individual priorities and how they are tied to the bigger picture. It will also help you sell more (a product, an idea) to customers, colleagues, bosses, and employees –and better (so others are as invested as you). An explanation or a pitch may be clear and concise, but if it is dull, it will be forgotten in no time. Add pictures and conversations to your speech. Forget about what you are selling and start by why it matters.
- Start with the why. What sets you apart? What is your purpose or cause? This is more relevant than the what. (Here’s how Apple marketed the iPod… What: 5GB capacity. Why: 1,000 songs in your pocket).
- Explain the how. What are the specific actions that will bring the product to life?
- Simplify the message. Avoid technical data and jargon
- Show, Don’t Tell. Your goal is to plant an idea in the mind of your audience or team members without them being fully aware of it. Why? A person is more likely to get invested when it’s inspired by their own idea, rather than someone else telling them to. (“Data is the new oil” or “Cloud computing is like a library, not a bookstore” are some examples.
#8 You are open to crazy ideas
“When I was younger, I always did it for half an hour a day. Why, sometimes I've believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.”
We need crazy ideas now more than ever. As your organization grows, innovation starts to look more like efficiency than creativity, but remember that crazy ideas aren’t just for beginnings or early stage startups.
Good leaders think outside the box and aren’t scared of (at least) listening to crazy (impossible) new ideas. (This is how our podcast Talaera Talks started!) They understand that great products don’t happen by accident, but sometimes they’re generated by off-the-wall ideas. Perpetual ideation and iteration are fundamental exercises to building great solutions.
- Promote innovation at work
- Surround yourself with diverse people
- Dedicate additional resources for inspiration and innovation
- Listen to the impossible ideas that your team may suggest
#9 You lead by example
“The best way to explain it is to do it.”
Your employees will respect you much more if you get your hands dirty. Set healthy boundaries between your personal and professional lives. How can you expect your employees to live by some standards that you are not willing to observe? Show responsibility through your actions and be a trustworthy manager. Leading by example is the most effective way to cultivate the company culture you strive for.
- Strive for work-life balance
- Set healthy boundaries
- Lead by example
#10 You believe in kindness
“'Tis so,' said the Duchess: ‘and the moral of that is — "Oh, 'tis love, 'tis love, that makes the world go round!”
Kindness and love can indeed make the world go round. When asked, “What do you think is the biggest source of innovation?” Satya Nadella, Microsoft’s CEO, replied, “Empathy. To me, what I have sort of come to realize, what is the most innate in all of us is that ability to be able to put ourselves in other people’s shoes and see the world the way they see it.” Care about your employees and be kind to them. Good leaders understand the importance of mental health and they are empathetic. They know that employee wellbeing plays a vital role in organizational success, and they prioritize it. Inspire your team members and make sure your staff, clients, beneficiaries, and customers feel trusted. Make training a priority within your organization —and balance it with a culture that allows team members to thrive. As Richard Branson famously said, “Train people well enough so they can leave, but treat them well enough so they don’t want to.”
- Be kind
- Be empathetic
- Treat employees, above all, as valued human beings
- Empower employees to thrive (by believing in them and offering development opportunities)
Regardless of your leadership style, being aware of the qualities of a good leader will help you thrive professionally. Working in the high-tech industry requires quite unique leadership skills, and these are the nine fundamental ones. Among them, Talaera can help you enhance your communication skills for the workplace or help any of your colleagues. If you or your teams would like to work on storytelling, simplifying complex messages, or communicating more clearly across cultures, get in touch with Talaera. We will create a business communication program tailored to your needs and interests.
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