Leading from a Distance – Skills for Technology Leaders

During the last couple of years it has been the technology leaders and their teams of skilled individuals that have kept countless organisation working. Without technology executives, many businesses would simply have faltered and ground to a halt.

Technology executives with the right skills will be in high demand

Technology has never been more central to organisations’ strategic priorities, this puts strong tech leaders and professionals in a great positions with more business influence. New skills and approaches will however be needed to enable them to lead from a distance. Excellent communication skills are at the core to remote leadership, along with the ability to assess an individual’s knowledge, ability and talent so that people with the correct skill set are identified and assigned to business challenges as they present themselves.

Good remote leaders

So what makes a good remote leader? It comes down to communication; the ability to maintain a sense of team even when you’re not in the same room. It’s about setting out and vocalising strategy with clarity and mapping out the road to achieve it – in a way that builds a sense of team purpose, culture and inclusion. Good technology leaders are more intentional about identifying the things that need to be shared with team members and providing space for team members to share as well.

Working remotely, the potential for miscommunication grows. It’s important that, when leading remotely, the risks for this are recognised. Remote team members can feel disconnected and wondering how they are doing, remote leaders will need to take their coaching role more seriously, celebrate success and re-enforce shared effort. Leaders of remote teams will need to spend more time building relationships and trust with those they lead. It’s important also for leaders to understand the impact their personality and behaviours have on others and how to communicate effectively with different personality types.

As we have discussed before some remote leaders set aside time for virtual team coffees and social catch-ups.  Other leaders may simply make time to contact individual team members, check how they are and if they have any areas of concern.  Others may set aside time each day when team members can book a slot to have a virtual catch up. One key attribute of strong leadership is genuinely caring about the team and recognising the importance of well-being. It is important to allow team members to vocalise areas of concern during these very unusual times.

Showing leadership – technology for new opportunities

With more remote working, location mattering less a positive development may be improving diversity and access to a wider pool of skills. Leaders will be assessing the make-up of their teams and using the opportunity to bring in the right talent. They have an important opportunity to build a more inclusive and diverse team, ensuring they have a cohort of talented individuals. With this of course comes challenges which may include cultural considerations, language barriers and time differences, all these can impact on team members’ ability to participate and contribute.

As business increases its reliance on technology, investment in tech remains a priority for businesses across all sectors. Key areas for leaders to consider are operational efficiency, customer engagement and enabling the workforce. But with so much expected of technology, there is no doubt that senior tech leaders will be under pressure to deliver and will have to do this whilst being in a much more remote world.

With the majority of the workforce predominantly working from home in the future, this inevitably produces the need for this new style of leadership.  It will be crucial that tech leaders are able to shape their teams to meet the new demands and challenges being posed. Framing the problems to be solved and identifying those with the correct knowledge and skills to solve them. If the teams cannot deliver the spotlight will soon fall on the leaders responsible for them. There may well be a shakeout at senior level as the current tech leaders may not have the skills to lead in the new remote environment.

The 5 day residential IT Leadership course is available online. ILM level 5 leadership Apprenticeship levy-funded blended course also available.

© IT Leaders