Who are the technologists who can translate opportunities into results? What does it take to become someone who can consistently deliver measurable results? I read an article recently that sparked my thinking.
High-performing technology leaders are leaders first, technologists second.
Leaders manage people well. They have learned the “soft skills” of leading others. Leaders know how to move a group of people from here to there. Leaders specialize in leadership. They are generalists in technology. High-performing technology leaders are still passionate about technology, but focus on the missional objectives, not the technologies.
High-performing technology leaders have learned to speak another language.
Learn to speak the language of leadership, the language of mission and business. Ask questions. Read books. Broaden your perspective. When around non-tech leaders, never, never, never talk about servers and protocols and megabytes and upload speeds. Ever!
Etched in my memory is a meeting with a technology leader and his organizational director. The discussion was about a new database system to replace the one that was about to exceed it’s maximum 1.5 million record limit. The director asked “Will this new system you are proposing last for a long time, or will it fill up like the current one?” The tech leader replied with a 15 minute explanation about how the Chunnel system linking France and the U.K. uses the same database system, has millions of passengers and vehicles a year pass through hence millions of database records added each year, and will last for many many years without exceeding the database’s maximum record limitations. The director asked his question again, “But will it last for a long time or will we be replacing it in a few years?” Another lengthy explanation. The director asked a third time. I jumped in to help the struggling tech leader saying, “What he is saying is ‘Yes, it will last a long time.'” The director thanked me for clarifying this important point.
High-performing technology leaders have found a balance.
When speaking outside the technology department, the high-performance leader speaks the language of leadership. Inside the technology department, the high-performance leader balances the language of leadership with the language of technology. The technology staff feel their leader understands the challenges they face and compromises they are making. All technology solutions are a balance, a compromise. The tech team needs to have confidence that their leader understands the issues and engages in the details.
What components of high-performance leadership have you found in technology leaders?