As a high-velocity, global industry, things in the tech world tend to move pretty fast. Today’s exciting breakthrough can quickly become tomorrow’s old news which means if you want to climb the career ladder then you need to develop distinct leadership skills.
The culture of a tech company differs from that of a non-tech company. Speed of growth plus the attraction of the tech world for younger people with backgrounds in engineering and science can present some unique challenges when it comes to leadership.
However, if you work in the tech industry it also provides a great opportunity for you to improve those leadership skills and increase your career progression. Some of those leadership skills will be more specific to the tech industry but there are also plenty of skills that apply whether you work in tech or not but will be equally useful in your chosen career.
We’ve put together some useful advice on three leaderships skills you can develop if you’re looking to move up in your department or apply for a more senior role.
Learn to delegate
The world of IT and tech is so vast and changing so rapidly that no one can possibly know everything all the time. Having to rely on another’s expertise is not a sign of weakness but rather the mark of a good leader and surrounding yourself with people who will complement your own talent is the key to success. By recognising what the strengths of your skillset are and what the strengths are of others you will be able to work much more effectively, choosing the right person for the project or task rather than trying to do it all yourself.
Learning to delegate is also a great example of a general shift in leadership styles as well, particularly within the tech industry. Gone are the days of ordering or commanding people to do what you want and employee empowerment is far more important. By delegating to others you are confirming you have confidence in their abilities to deliver and making them a more valued and productive staff member.
However, because the pace of change in technology is so rapid you need to know your colleagues and team really well. Who wants to always learn the latest technology? Who would rather focus on the business aspect of technology? You need to play to those strengths when delegating and choose the people who will make the best fit.
Want to find out more about how you can develop your leadership skills and take on a management role?
Take the initiative
It’s no good sitting back and waiting for your boss to give you some direction because he or she is likely to pass you over for someone who is a bit more enthusiastic. Good leaders show initiative and actively seek out opportunities to prove themselves and their skills.
Look at ways you can show your boss you are forward thinking. It might be that the next time you face a challenge you get on with it, offering up solutions and presenting them to your manager without first being asked. You might develop new ways to attract your company’s target audience through social media or you could work on an internal issue, making your job or company processes more efficient.
As well as showing initiative through your actions you also need to demonstrate you are ready to take on more leadership-type roles by finding small project management opportunities. There is no harm in offering to take some of the work off your manager’s hands such as helping trainees, leading meetings and mentoring interns. You can also show initiative with less job-specific tasks. Maybe your company has an annual dinner you could get involved with organising, or a charity event you could take the lead on.
Develop a strong emotional IQ
It’s not enough to delegate or show initiative to develop leadership skills, you need to really understand people too. Working out what motivates colleagues and team members can make your leadership fare more effective. By finding out what makes them tick you can empower them, making them an enthusiastic participant, rather than merely ordering them what to do.
Emotional intelligence is factored into every aspect of professional life. From hiring and firing to dealing with problems, reprimanding, praising and promoting employees. It is also important to help you understand your own behaviour as well because how well you manage your emotions can make the difference between a positive outcome at a meeting, for example, or a negative one.
People with strong emotional intelligence will display many of the following traits:
- Self-awareness – understanding your own strengths and weaknesses
- Empathy – being able to identify with colleagues’ and team members’ feelings, opinions and needs
- Sensitivity – being perceived as caring may make co-workers more likely to want to work with you and increase your chances of promotion
- Flexibility – being a team player and being open to other people’s solutions and ideas
- Calm demeanour – not losing your temper or acting out of anger.
- Generousness - remembering that yours is not the only agenda and opting for the best outcome wherever possible
- Motivated - being passionate about what you do beyond financial reward