Tech and tech-influenced companies account for a rising share of the overall business world. And while tech companies mostly function like any other business, they’re unique in their offerings, organizational demands and competitive structure in an industry. In other words, they need leaders that understand how to run a tech company.
To thrive in a given industry, a tech leader must know how to innovate, adapt, organize and deliver unmistakable value. Below, let’s unpack these traits by exploring what qualities make an effective leader in the technology space.
A Consumer-Centric Outlook
Consumers expect different things from a tech company than – say – a brick-and-mortar clothing store. They expect convenience, simplicity, transparency and choice. At a bare minimum, they expect not to be treated like another metric.
In an interview with Medium, Regan McGee reflected on what makes him an effective tech leader – he helms the massively successful real estate digital marketplace, Nobul. While other real estate technology companies “focus on extracting as much money from the consumer as possible,” he focuses on “advocat(ing) for the consumer while bringing more transparency to transactions.”
It’s a lesson in how consumer-first strategies win out in the current consumer landscape. In his interview, McGee offers advice to other leaders: “Focus on the consumer, there is plenty of money for everybody. If you focus on the consumer, you could wake up knowing that you are doing good for the world.”
Agility and Adaptability
The tech world moves at a breakneck pace. What was “cutting edge” yesterday might be ripe for disruption tomorrow. This means, as a leader in tech, you have to be agile and adaptable.
In Deloitte’s white paper Designing an Agile Technology Organization, experts recommend that companies “encourage leaders and employees to constantly scan for real-time insights into changing market conditions or other impacts to the business or its customer,” so it can “respond to change and remain competitive, (and) connect with workers, customers, communities and societies-at-large.”
Curiosity, Innovation and Experimentation
Innovation and experimentation are the engines that drive a tech company. Without them, there would be no forward momentum, no improvement. And at the heart of innovation and experimentation is curiosity.
It’s easy for leaders to rest on their laurels. Building something takes time and effort; turning around and rebuilding can feel like a gargantuan task. To inoculate against this kind of intellectual and organizational stagnation, a tech leader needs to remain curious – about customer preferences, internal processes, industry advancements, emerging technologies, etc.
As a leader in the tech space, you will be called upon to communicate your company’s value to non-tech-fluent people, be they investors, consumers or employees.
Therefore, a good leader in tech needs to be an effective communicator. It starts with understanding your audience – how they speak, what they value, and their threshold for understanding technological complexity. Next, you need to make the complex simple by relaying your information concisely, in a manner that relates to your audience. Finally, effective communication involves equal parts listening, which is an effective tool for understanding customer, investor and employee frustrations.
If you plan on steering a tech company to success, consider working on these essential qualities. Learn how to communicate effectively, remain agile, stay curious and focus on the consumer.