What Does A Future Tech Leader Look Like?

The roles of a CIO, CTO, and CEO used to be defined and distinctively separate. Today, technology leadership roles are increasing in scope and traditionally non-technical executives are engaging more with technology. From entry-level employees to C-suite executives, the lines between tech and non-tech are constantly shifting. What does this mean for a tech leader who wants to remain relevant in the future?

Collaboration, Not Control

Non-tech personnel have long been portrayed as hapless computer users and IT professionals as the ones who reluctantly help them to wield the power of technology. Things have changed, though. With cloud computing and user-friendly services such as Canva and Wix, non-tech users are now more capable than ever. The new generation of employees entering the workforce is much more tech-savvy than their predecessors. This means that instead of trying to command and control their coworkers, tech professionals need to adopt a more collaborative approach.

However, collaboration can be more difficult than control. Especially for tech professionals who often have a high opinion of themselves as more adept and intelligent than the common user. Collaboration requires effective communication, empathy, understanding, and self-regulation—skills that fall under the umbrella of emotional intelligence. While the IT professionals of the past have been judged by skills such as complex problem-solving and systems thinking, the tech professionals of the future will be measured on their innate (or acquired) ability to play well with others.

News that everyday workers are becoming better at tech should be welcomed. A workforce that can easily adopt agile processes and adapt to change can help businesses to survive and thrive. Unfortunately, this is also a clarion call for tech professionals who are stuck in their old ways: evolve or become redundant. Deep technical expertise will always be relevant but it must be accompanied by the soft skills that allow for creativity and co-creation. In the coming years, businesses with entrenched values and old-fashioned tech teams could be faced with a serious skills gap.

Once More, From The Top

What is a business leader to do when confronted with such a situation? According to Deloitte’s 2020 Global Technology Leadership Study, business and technology leaders from across the globe indicated that the most important tech leadership attributes for the future lay in change and learning orientation. Traits such as agility, vision, innovation, and the ability to change made up 69% of what leaders considered defining leadership characteristics. Yet only 20% of these leaders aspired to be change instigators, with 59% preferring to be involved in business strategy.

This finding demonstrates a concerning gap between expectation and approach, even in the most high-performing business leaders. Leaders must start with themselves if they want to change the alignment of their team members. Instead of taking on a partner or advisor role and supporting business strategy, tech leaders should be visionaries. They need to constantly challenge the status quo. It is not enough to adapt to change; future business leaders must instigate it. More than being agile, the ideal tech leader of the future should be kinetic.

Of course, this is easier said than done. Many tech leaders, like their subordinates, have become comfortable in their way of doing things. Shifting from the role of a strategic partner to a visionary comes with a certain measure of risk and exposure to the unknown. Tech leaders need to have the confidence and authority to critically challenge the norm and make transformational changes. They cannot do this behind their desks in siloed environments. While the change has to begin at the top, the people at the top must be ready to engage all levels of their organization.

Reprogram The Mind

This brings us back to the proverbial problem: tech leaders and professionals need to develop their emotional intelligence. Tech leaders who can break through the barriers that they have created are more likely to be able to help their team members do the same. Leaders must evaluate their mindsets and identify any biases, habits, and behavior patterns that could be impeding their growth. They should take proactive action to broaden their awareness and understanding of the world around them in order to find and eliminate their blind spots.

Tech leaders can turn to thought leaders like cybersecurity leader Christian Espinosa for emotional intelligence and technical leadership training. A kinetic leader must be able to see possibilities and challenges from various points of view. And for that, they need to be able to gather input from different sources, from entry-level staff to executive decision-makers. Emotional intelligence training not only improves cognitive and self-regulation skills but also makes participants better communicators. Participants learn to adopt a growth and contribution approach that drives change.

A future tech leader is always moving forward. They are catalysts of change and are always on the lookout for opportunities to transform their business. They are self-aware, empathetic, and naturally motivated. They are confident communicators. A diverse range of emotional and technical skills puts them in a unique position to lead their team and achieve not just production, but productivity, creativity, and agility. The tech workplace is changing fast. Are you ready for the future?

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