For a technical leader to be effective, they need to cultivate a broad range of competencies, not limited just by technological expertise. At Works, we recognise that while technology is essential to our mission, our leaders also need to develop insights from fields like management science, psychology, empathy and storytelling.
As technologists, it’s natural for us to stay abreast of the latest trends and tools in our field. But at Works, we pride ourselves on recognising the importance of soft skills that aren’t so easy to define. Here are three qualities that can set you apart as a leader who can inspire your team and communicate the value of technology more effectively.
Improve Your Knowledge and Study More Efficiently
In the fast-paced tech industry, acquiring new skills and rapidly putting them into practice is a crucial competence. It’s remarkable how quickly new technologies emerge, rendering our old tools obsolete. Reflecting on the evolution since you started out, it’s likely that many of the technologies you once used are now extinct, with you having mastered at least half a dozen newer ones.
To be a great leader, having a keen learning ability is a valuable asset. While rapidly acquiring new tech skills is vital, it’s also important to be flexible in learning new areas such as marketing, finance or even a completely different field, especially if you switch roles or your company ventures into new product lines. Investing in refining your learning skill can prove incredibly beneficial.
Mindful training can be a great technique to boost your learning ability. Why not set yourself a challenge to explore beyond your professional or recreational interests? For example, if you’re planning a DIY home renovation, why not study up on construction techniques? If music is not your strength, consider mastering a simple composition software like Garage Band, or even going further and learning to play an instrument.
There are plenty of options for personal learning and growth, ranging from picking up a foreign language, diving deeper into a tech application, or coding a small program. But the key is to develop learning skills that will enable you to learn anything. Ultimately, what counts is not just obtaining a new capability, but gaining the ability to acquire new competencies consistently.
Applications of Storytelling in Practice
Many people aspire to improve their storytelling skills, yet few make it a priority. The benefits of storytelling are clear. From the dawn of language, humans have shared information and passed on their knowledge through stories.
Learning about applied storytelling can be a fun and advantageous way to improve your communication skills. And the best part is, it’s a useful skill that won’t cost you a fortune to develop. Your next public speaking event or presentation can elevate to another level by organising it in the style of a novel, complete with characters, plotlines and a moral lesson for your listeners.
Although it may seem overwhelming at first, you’re likely already acquainted with the basic structure of a story you find compelling. The more you utilise this technique, the more your audience will be captivated, your ideas will be well-received, and the more probable it is that the message or action you wish to convey will be comprehended.
The ongoing discussion about empathy has caused a blurring of the lines between it and other emotions such as compassion and sympathy. Empathy essentially involves stepping into someone else’s shoes and comprehending their emotions and perspectives without adding one’s own values or biases to the mix. It’s the skill of understanding another person’s point of view without making any conclusive judgements.
Exhibiting empathy towards colleagues, team members and superiors can equip you to respond skilfully in different circumstances. For instance, two high-achieving individuals with comparable profiles could one day experience a sudden dip in productivity. While your initial impulse might be to deliver a motivational talk to uplift them, you may need to explore other solutions if this strategy falls short.
When seeking to comprehend their point of view, it’s often more advantageous to begin by asking questions rather than proposing solutions. Even if two individuals share comparable backgrounds and prior accomplishments, they may have very different reasons for their decline and therefore require unique remedies to address the issue.
The ability to empathise is often advantageous in various scenarios such as supplier negotiations or employee evaluations. Similar to the art of storytelling, acquiring this proficiency requires commitment and effort. It’s vital to take into account the other person’s perspective before initiating a conversation, whether it’s with a coworker or a supervisor. Ask yourself why they are feeling anxious and what they wish to address. Understanding their triumphs and setbacks, as well as their apprehensions, can prove instrumental.
Developing empathetic skills can foster better teamwork and foster respect for the leader, and increase appreciation for their dedication to the team and their responsibilities.
Putting in the Effort
Your achievement in reaching a leadership position showcases your technical proficiency and ability to administer intricate technological projects. To thrive in this role, however, it’s crucial to develop the softer skills that are equally indispensable as the technical ones, necessitating a significant investment of time and effort.
To become an effective leader in a technical domain, possessing technical expertise alone is insufficient. You must also acquire the skill to learn efficiently, employ storytelling techniques, and cultivate empathy. By honing these proficiencies, you can transform yourself into an exceptional leader in the technical sector, rather than just an ordinary leader with excellent technical aptitude.
How to improve the non-technical ability of IT leaders?