The real danger is not that computers will begin to think like men but that men will start to feel 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 chief skill is dealing with people, the future requires us to integrate our skills to achieve leadership mastery in the digital age. If you are a tech-savvy leader, you are likely smart, capable, analytical, process-oriented, fast, and focused. These skills are highly valued in the workplace.
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 evolutionary. 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 in 2008, progressive organizations have noticed the gap and have been investing in training and developing their leaders to include highly developed leadership skills related 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 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 conform to the old kind of ‘my way or the highway.’ As you can imagine, this did not go over very well with the Gen Y employees, and many highly skilled employees left 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 many of them were 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 who have leadership mastery. Unfortunately, with much focus 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 examines 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’s issues
- Communicate in tech language
- Less aware of the emotions of others
- Task focused
People Savvy Leader
- Open and curious
- Focused on people
- Concentrate on what data does for people
- Deals with people’s 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 judged some items on the lists. Or you may have thought you have a high level of each skill 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 refer to having technical awareness and function- not becoming a tech expert!