Tech Updates

Leadership Mastery – How to Integrate Tech Skills With People Skills

“The real danger is not that computers will begin to think like men, but that men will begin to think like computers.”
Sydney J. Harris

Leadership Mastery

Leadership mastery in the digital age requires the integration of skills. Whether your dominant skill is technology aptitude or your dominant skill is dealing with people, the future requires us to integrate our skills to achieve mastery of leadership in the digital age.

If you are a tech-savvy leader, it is likely that you are smart, capable, analytical, process-oriented, fast, and focused. These skills are highly valued in the workplace. Now it is time to integrate tech skills with people management skills to improve overall leadership effectiveness and move your team and the organization forward. The skills needed to be a masterful leader in these digital times include being tech-savvy AND being evolutionary.

In the past, people skills development has often been put aside as too ‘touchy feely’ or non-important, and in the past decade, there has been a higher value placed on technological skills. However, since the global economic challenges of 2008, progressive organizations have noticed the gap and have been investing in training and developing their leaders to now include highly developed leadership skills as they relate to the ‘people side of the business. A talented, trained workforce is an asset that companies now understand the value of and, as such, now know that they must have great leaders who inspire and develop the talent within, or their good talent will leave and go elsewhere.

A few years ago, I had a consulting contract with a high-tech company experiencing challenges with keeping their Generation Y employees. Upon investigation, it was discovered that the Baby Boomer leaders were not adapting to the attitudes and work styles of Gen Y. In that company, the Baby Boomer leaders had an attitude of superiority and demanded all employees to conform, the old style of ‘my way or the highway.’ As you can imagine, this did not go over very well with the Gen Y employees, and a good number of highly skilled employees were leaving in droves.

Read More Articles :

As technology leaders become younger and younger, the challenges have switched to having the leadership knowledge and understanding of human behavior to keep the team happy, functioning, and creating superior results.

Baby Boomer leaders had an attitude of superiority and demanded all employees to conform. As you can imagine, this did not go over well with the Gen Y employees, and a good portion of them was leaving in droves.

There is a need in today’s modern workplace and the workplace of the future to have leaders who are adaptable, astute, and able to mobilize people to perform their work at their highest levels, manage remote teams and flexible work teams and be technologically savvy, leaders who are more than good leaders; leaders who have leadership mastery.

With a lot of focus being put on the technological aspects of the work, many leaders have lost sight of good change leadership tactics or have never been exposed to them.
This chapter wants to look at the difference between a tech-savvy leader and a people-savvy leader.

Let’s take a look at the chart below to see examples of some of the main differences:

Tech Savvy Leader
Focused on computer
Focused on data
Focused on output
Impatient with people issues
Communicate in tech language
Less aware of emotions of others
Task focused

People Savvy Leader
Open and curious
Focused on people
Focused on what data does for people
Deals with people issues with understanding
Highly aware of others’ emotional states
Team focused

As you read through the lists for each description of the tech-savvy leader and the people-savvy leader, you may have found yourself judging some of the items on the lists. Or you may have thought that you have a high level of each of the skills listed.

For example, I have a client who is an extremely people-focused CEO; however, she lacks the technical knowledge, so she is people savvy but not so strong with the tech-savvy. As her consultant, I am working with her to develop both areas to be more effective as a leader. When I refer to technological knowledge, I am referring to having technological awareness and function- not becoming a tech expert!

Leaders seeking to achieve mastery who are more technological savvy choose to spend the time required to develop their people skills in addition to the time spent on continually developing their technical knowledge and awareness.

I recently presented for a major multinational technology group in Orlando, Florida. When I present, I give out my cell number so that my audience can text me while I speak and ask me questions. This really works well because the questions are anonymous (unless they want to self-identify), and I can answer them while going through the content of my presentation. For example, one of the questions I was asked while talking about the need for tech professionals to improve their people skills side of leadership was, “how do I get my team members to just stop all of their politickings and focus on the work?”
I texted the leader back to ask if it was okay to openly announce the question and address it to benefit the group. He said yes, and so I asked a question back, “do you have regular team update meetings either in person or by Skype?” the leader answered, ‘no’ and then I asked, “do you openly share what is happening with your team so that they have the latest information first hand?” and he answered, “no.”

People don’t leave their jobs – they leave their leaders – a harsh reality and one you have likely experienced as an employee yourself and a leader.

The reason I wanted this to be discussed with the entire group is that in this scenario, the leader was focused purely on his tech-savvy skills and was not employing any people-savvy skills at all, and there were many others similar to him in the audience. The person who texted the question had the courage to self identify to the group, and we worked through how he can get his team to stop politicking and focus on the work; the ideas presented to him were:

#1- Have a team meeting (virtual or in-person) regularly (weekly if possible) to address what the goals are for the upcoming week, who is doing what, and the latest news from your boss and the company.

#2 – Identify the one or two people who are the ‘influencers’ of the politicking and take them out for a coffee or lunch to talk about the company or schedule a one on one Skype if they are a remote worker, their satisfaction with their job and what they need to help them focus on getting the work done. Having the support of the influencer(s) is a major advantage.

When the audience member was given these ideas, he said out loud, “geez, this managing person is a lot of work!” Therein lies the real challenge for most leaders!

Many leaders get caught up in deadlines, tech updates, business results, and they forget that to achieve any of these things successfully, you must rely on your people. People are not machines. They are human, emotional and need to be treated as valued members of your team.

People don’t leave their jobs- they leave their leaders- a harsh reality and one you have likely experienced both as an employee yourself and as a leader.

As a leader, you have to ask yourself if you are willing to help people succeed, to grow people, and ultimately to focus the time and energy to be a great leader. As the workplace continues to speed up and change, it is more important now to focus on both the tech and people side of the business, and this means knowing who you are as a leader and adapting to the reality of managing people.