Technology is at the heart of most modern businesses. Not just the desktop pcs that enable people to work and communicate; it’s websites and internet marketing; it’s smart manufacturing systems; it’s high-tech research and development tools; it’s customer apps – the whole ‘Digital’ landscape.
So the people in charge of the technology are key to the success of any business.
This is a complete turnaround from the origins of IT in business. Traditionally, IT was regarded as a support service, akin to HR, Finance or Purchasing. The people who worked in IT were often ‘backroom’ types, not fond of the limelight but content to be engaged in interesting and challenging work.
Now, technology has moved from the periphery of the organisation to its centre. And hence, into the limelight. Technology leaders need, not only to be comfortable with that, but also able to contribute intelligent opinions, provide relevant information and steer a course to success.
In short, the geeks have inherited – well, not quite the Earth, but certainly their worth.
The eyes of modern business are fixed firmly on the technology leaders to provide business leadership. What a great opportunity!
The question is, who is better equipped to embrace this opportunity? The ‘geek’ manager who has gained his position of responsibility mainly through technical expertise and the respect of his peers but prefers to keep a low profile and can’t quite find the confidence to step into the limelight? Or the career leader who understands how to influence his colleagues in all departments, can make a polished presentation to the Board, enjoys the limelight but has to defer to junior colleagues when faced with a technical question?
Clearly the ideal technology leader has the best of both. Maybe 20% fall into this category. For the other 80%, are we better off hiring confident leaders and surrounding them with technical experts or does it make more sense to nurture and develop the technical wizards?