Should a leader be tech savvy?

Today’s guest post is from Anthony Portuesi, Senior Sales Rep at Johnson & Johnson and author of DrivenLeaders.com. DrivenLeaders.com is a blog devoted to personal and professional development for the emerging leaders of tomorrow.

When we think of great business leaders, many things may come to mind; the ability to inspire, to motivate, to be a visionary, or perhaps to radically challenge the status quo. Each attribute demonstrates a cornerstone of strong leadership, but this being known, the question facing many in leadership positions today is – Do we need to include the “being tech savvy” to the list?

Is it necessary? Some argue yes, with the advancements in software and the impact technology has had in developing new markets and business opportunities, how can one not? Others dispute that good leaders need to keep abreast of current technological trends, but not necessarily have extensive knowledge of them to be successful. Maintaining that in the big picture it’s about leadership, not technical prowess.

The question can be argued from both points of view, each one having multiple real world examples with varying levels of success. Regardless, one overarching point remains clear. Business as we know it continues to evolve and leaders who are slow to embrace technology in any capacity are sure to fall behind the pack. Emerging technologies will continue to be a source of competitive advantage, drive new market opportunities and redesign our current organizational models.

I think Mark Somers, PhD and professor at the NJIT School of Management, said it best with the statement. “There is only one certainty in the current business environment — continual, rapid, unpredictable change. Much of that change will be technological in nature and the future will belong to business leaders who can leverage technology to capitalize on the opportunities that arise in this fast-evolving competitive arena.”

So the question remains, does a leader need to be tech savvy? Perhaps it may not as simple as a yes or no answer… My belief follows that of Mr. Somers. I think it is vital for those in leadership positions to understand the true impact that technology has on their position, not only on a macro-level to their market or industry, but also on the micro-level with the effect it has on how people interact and how it impacts daily work flow. With that working knowledge one would have the skill set to manage through the ever changing dynamics of business.

So what do you think? Should a leader need to be tech savvy? I’d be interested to hear your thoughts

DrivenLeaders.com is a blog devoted to personal and professional development for the emerging leaders of tomorrow. The pressure on new leaders to hit the ground running has never been greater, and the likelihood and cost of failure is escalating. As Gen-Y continues to become an increasing force in the workplace, the need to develop the necessary skills to be a successful leader grows ever more important. As a compilation of resources, thoughts and inspiration, Driven Leaders is as open forum for those interested in leadership and personal development.  If you enjoyed Anthony’s post, you should visit his blog and subscribe via RSS.

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4 Responses to Should a leader be tech savvy?

  1. Peter Mangin says:

    I believe this depends on the make-up and structure of the organisation. If not tech-savvy, a leader must have a senior team/advisor who is and, more importantly, understands the business in order to apply it in ways that add value.

    Too often do organisations marginalise the role of technology; technology not only underpins basic operations, but can be leveraged to offer significant, tangible [real-world] competitive advantages.

  2. Wildly open question and it depends on what you lead.

    If technologies either affects your business or has the ability to, then the ability to make a decision on it is essential. I don’t believe a leader needs to possess ultimate knowledge. But can they surround themselves with the people who have that knowledge and then lead accordingly.

  3. Siddharth Vishwanathan says:

    Being the leader of the change is always good since you get to take the first shot at the market. If it works, awesome! Being tech savvy allows the one in power more knowledge to embrace, support and lead this technological change.

    You may not be the starter of all the change in the your industry and market but having a mind open to it is important to adopt to the changing scenarios. A tech savvy nature just furthers your compatibility and comfort with change.

    That’s my 2 cents!

  4. Thanks for your comments, great insight! I do agree that the question can be very situational and with the point that there has to be a level of understanding be it the leader themselves or key people around them. I think any sample of top corporate leaders would show success on both sides.
    The challenges of technology and leadership have changed a great deal over the least 10 years. It will be interesting to how or if this would change as time goes on.

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