Want to become a successful manager or team leader? You’ll need additional skills, new approaches, and a different mindset.
The first key to becoming a good manager: adaptability. Leaders in the technology field will face a wide range of business challenges and priorities in the coming years, from business model transformation to CX, data security, staff development and more. If you’re too rigid in your approach to processes, you won’t effectively handle these changes.
Here’s a look at the qualities and skills necessary for success in a managerial or leadership job.
Humility is often dismissed as a leadership quality because it is frequently associated with weakness or insecurity; nonetheless, it’s making a comeback in the wake of executive arrogance and hubris causing problems at startups such as Uber and Theranos.
“The leaders of those companies became so full of themselves that people deferred to them too much,” noted Bill Treasurer, leadership coach, author, and chief encouragement officer of GiantLeapConsulting. As a result, they went virtually unchecked, and started thinking that they were above the rules.
Going forward, leaders will need to be confident and humble at the same time. How can you achieve both? “Work on being a good person first,” Treasurer said. “Leaders with strong character won’t be tempted to violate ethics or lead with an iron fist.” If you truly want to practice humility, he added, don’t be afraid to do the following things:
- Ask questions and admit what you don’t know.
- Show your “warts.”
- Surround yourself with people who are smarter than you.
- Spend time with people you outrank.
- Be open to feedback.
- Say “thank you” sincerely and often.
As Rick Warren once said: “True humility is not thinking less of yourself; it is thinking of yourself less.”
The must-have skills for tech leaders have evolved over time, noted Katy Tynan, founder of Liteskip Consulting Group. Initially, managers needed technical skills to thrive; then soft skills such as communication and collaboration became just as important; now, business acumen has been added to the list of requirements for most companies.
“It’s imperative that managers understand how the organization makes money and how users and end clients actually use the technology in order to deliver a better experience,” Tynan explained. More than ever, managers need the smarts and ability to justify and align investments in technology with the company’s business objectives.
Google spent 10 years identifying the behaviors that were common among their highest-performing managers. Their research revealed that the ability to coach, guide and share insights was one of the most important behaviors of highest-scoring managers.
Not much has changed over the past decade. In fact, a recent survey shows that tech pros who plan to change jobs in 2019 will seek opportunities to advance their skills, and for that, they’ll need coaching (as well as advice on how to become better coaches). It’s no wonder that effective coaching has become a leadership fundamental in the modern workplace.
Harnesses the Power of a Multigenerational Workforce
Some managerial competencies take time to develop. For instance, it takes years of hands-on experience and working through mistakes to develop good judgment and make better decisions. Millennial managers who listen to their older colleagues and tap their vast business experience and institutional knowledge can realistically accelerate their own learning curves and avoid making costly errors. There are more generations in the workforce than ever before; great leaders are able to turn that diversity into a competitive advantage.
Preventing cyber-attacks isn’t just the responsibility of security experts. Today, every manager is responsible for mitigating risk and ensuring the security of the organization, its technical infrastructure, and its data. Understand how to weave security into every role and process you oversee. In addition, learn how to communicate the need for security to other stakeholders; sometimes, it takes time (and discussion) for others to grasp what needs to be done to harden corporate defenses.
Connecting and Engaging Distributed Teams
Estimates show that 50 percent of the U.S. workforce will be working remotely by 2020. With the number of remote workers, freelancers and contractors growing exponentially, the ability to keep a distributed workforce connected, engaged and on-task will be a critical management skill for 2019 and beyond.
Technical rock stars who earned promotions by carrying the load or leveraging their talents to rescue troubled projects may end up hurting themselves if they don’t learn how to delegate tasks and hold others accountable. Managers need to delegate as much as possible in order to develop their employees, convey trust and identify future leaders.
As Treasurer pointed out: “Managers who don’t learn to trust others and delegate authority are bound to hit a career plateau at some point.”