In my recent TEDx talk, I shared my saucy mission with the world. I’m on a mission to eliminate shit leadership in tech.
I’ve been known to toss out a curse word. If you don’t like it, you can fill in your own favorite adjective. Crap, garbage, toxic, bad, etc. Be creative.
You may think you’re off the hook because you’re not in “tech” or you’re not a leader by title. Not so fast. What is this thing called “tech” anyway?
What is Tech?
In recent years, it seems that being in “tech” seems to imply you’re in software development and working at a startup and/or one of the fab 5 companies in the FAAMG group (Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Microsoft, Google). That default notion is rather limited. It also excludes me (and a zillion others) because I’m terrible at programming and have never been an employee of FAAMG. My definition of “tech” is an organization, company or industry that relies heavily on STEM professionals to deliver value. By my definition, “tech” applies to software development at FAAMG but also to artificial intelligence, advanced manufacturing, robotics, medical devices, pharma, material science, and aerospace. I also specifically include organizations because I don’t want those of you in, let’s say, academic research groups or government-funded institutions to feel left out. I’m all about inclusion.
Leadership is not a position or title. Leadership is about behaviors. Your behaviors. My behaviors. Too often when we consider “leadership,” and consequently point blame for the lack of leadership, we look around:
- We look up to management and bemoan their lack of leadership, vision, and strategy. Sometimes, many times, we have reason for concern.
- When we’re at the top, we bemoan the lack of talent, skill gaps, next-in-line management, lack of new products, shareholder pressure and let’s not forget those incorrigible Millennials. (Note my sarcasm on the last one). Seriously, these are all concerns, too.
- When we’re in the middle, we look up, look down and then across. It hits us. We’re totally screwed from every direction.
We look around but we also need to look in the mirror and assess our own behaviors.
While those in tech are often creative, curious and analytical, “leadership skills” are traditionally considered “soft skills” and are undervalued or even ignored. However, success in tech is not all about tech. Success in tech is about your ability to communicate a vision or goal, connect people to that vision or goal, and inspire and motivate people to deliver on that vision or goal. Success in tech is about demonstrating these leadership behaviors.
Technology is moving at an astounding pace. That’s a fact. In order for companies to grow, or even remain relevant, they must stay ahead of the competition by constantly innovating and evolving. Leadership is absolutely critical.
“The measure of intelligence is the ability to change.” -Albert Einstein
Want to learn more about my personal journey and the 3 most important aspects for leadership in tech? Check out my TEDx talk entitled “Becoming a Tech Leader Requires Learning to Lead.”
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