The real danger is not that computers will begin to think like men, but that men will begin to think like computers.
Sydney J. Harris
Leadership mastery in the digital age requires the integration of skills. Whether your dominant skill is technology aptitude or your dominant skill is dealing with people, the future requires us to integrate our skills to achieve mastery of leadership in the digital age. If you are a tech-savvy leader, it is likely that you are smart, capable, analytical, process-oriented, fast, and focused. These skills are highly valued in the workplace. Now it is time to integrate tech skills with people management skills to improve overall leadership effectiveness and move your team and the organization forward. The skills needed to be a masterful leader in these digital times include being tech-savvy AND being evolutionary.
In the past, people skills development has often been put aside as too ‘touchy feely’ or non-important, and in the past decade, there has been a higher value placed on technological skills. However, since the global economic challenges of 2008, progressive organizations have noticed the gap and have been investing in training and developing their leaders to now include highly developed leadership skills as they relate to the ‘people side of the business. A talented, trained workforce is an asset that companies now understand the value of and, as such, now know that they must have great leaders who inspire and develop the talent within, or their good talent will leave and go elsewhere.
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A few years ago, I had a consulting contract with a high-tech company experiencing challenges with keeping their Generation Y employees. Upon investigation, it was discovered that the Baby Boomer leaders were not adapting to the attitudes and work styles of Gen Y. In that company, the Baby Boomer leaders had an attitude of superiority and demanded all employees to conform, the old style of ‘my way or the highway.’ As you can imagine, this did not go over very well with the Gen Y employees, and a good number of highly skilled employees were leaving in droves.
As technology leaders become younger and younger, the challenges have switched to having the leadership knowledge and understanding of human behavior to keep the team happy, functioning, and creating superior results. Unfortunately, baby Boomer leaders had an attitude of superiority and demanded all employees to conform. As you can imagine, this did not go over well with the Gen Y employees, and a good portion of them was leaving in droves.
There is a need in today’s modern workplace and the workplace of the future to have leaders who are adaptable, astute, and able to mobilize people to perform their work at their highest levels, manage remote teams and flexible work teams and be technologically savvy, leaders who are more than good leaders; leaders who have leadership mastery. Unfortunately, with a lot of focus being put on the work’s technological aspects, many leaders have lost sight of good change leadership tactics or have never been exposed to them.
This chapter wants to look at the difference between a tech-savvy leader and a people-savvy leader.
Let’s take a look at the chart below to see examples of some of the main differences:
Tech Savvy Leader
- Focused on computer
- Focused on data
- Focused on output
- Impatient with people issues
- Communicate in tech language
- Less aware of emotions of others
- Task focused
People Savvy Leader
- Open and curious
- Focused on people
- Focused on what data does for people
- Deals with people issues with understanding
- Highly aware of others’ emotional states
- Team focused
As you read through the lists for each description of the tech-savvy leader and the people-savvy leader, you may have found yourself judging some of the items on the lists. Or you may have thought that you have a high level of each of the skills listed. For example, I have a client who is an extremely people-focused CEO; however, she lacks the technical knowledge, so she is people savvy but not so strong with the tech-savvy. As her consultant, I am working with her to develop both areas to be more effective as a leader. When I refer to technological knowledge, I am referring to having technological awareness and function- not becoming a tech expert!