Whenever we have issues with technology whether it be a device, an app, or a piece of software, who do we usually turn to for help? Our kids (especially teenagers!). Teens oftentimes don’t know the inner workings of a piece of software, they can build a new device for you from scratch…yet somehow they just know how to figure technology out without having to be professional developers. Leaders need to have a similar approach to technology…they need the skill of the technology teenager which is one of the nine skills and mindsets that leaders need to possess if they wish to be successful in the new world of work.
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Most teens can easily navigate through new technology, but few of them are actually technology experts. They understand the technology and are digitally fluent without being expert coders and programmers.
Too many leaders today shy away from technology; they think it is scary, unknown, or overwhelming and something that IT should be dealing with. But the truth is, leaders don’t need to become experts, they just need to become more tech-savvy and digitally fluent. We need to be continually trying to figure out what a technology is, how it works, what the value is, and what the implications are. Leaders need to be technology teenagers.
Robert Dutkowsky, former CEO and current executive chairman of Tech Data, told me this in our interview: “The leader of an organization has to be right on top of technology because virtually every company in the world today is a technology company.”
Technology has a dramatic impact on our lives, our organizations, and the world as a whole. Leaders need to understand what impact a particular technology might have on the business, on their career, and on their people.
How to Become a Tech-Savvy Leader
The first step to becoming a tech-savvy leader with the skill of the technology teenager is to explore and be curious. I rarely see teenagers reading instruction manuals about new products—they just jump in and go for it. Leaders can follow the same approach by jumping in and exploring. We often learn more about technology by actually using it instead of just reading about it.
Instead of being overwhelmed and shying away from technology, future leaders need to adopt the mindset that this is the new normal. We will always be surrounded by new technology, and it will continue to come at us faster and faster. To succeed, leaders need to be aware of the technology landscape and know how to find the best technology for themselves, their employees, and their organizations as a whole.
Michael Tipsord, CEO of State Farm, told me this: “Tomorrow’s leaders will need to have a technology fluency that lets them anticipate opportunities and threats, distinguish hype from credible, and embrace transformative possibilities.”
Luckily, there are incredible resources to help us learn about new technology. Online resources like YouTube, blogs, podcasts, and TED Talks can provide an overview of new technology and how it can best be applied. Surround yourself with people who are more tech-savvy than you. Build a network of people who can provide advice and answer questions. Embrace technology and realize the potential it has for your organization. There’s no avoiding technology and surviving as a business, so buckle up, pay attention, and welcome these advancements with open arms.
Ask the Right Questions
Leaders don’t need to understand every detail of a particular technology, but they do need to understand what impact a particular technology might have on the business. You don’t have to have all the answers, but you should be able to ask the right questions.
Leaders need to be able to have these conversations and should be able to answer questions like:
- What does the general technology landscape look like? What are some of the emerging technologies out there today?
- Which technologies are going to impact your industry?
- How might your organization use various technologies to improve things like customer satisfaction, employee experience, or productivity?
- What might happen if the organization doesn’t make investments in technology?
- How are your customers and employees using various technologies?
Technology is an unavoidable part of the future of work. It opens countless doors to increased productivity, connection, and potential, but leaders must be willing to adopt new technology and leverage the best solutions for their organizations. To succeed over the next decade and beyond, every leader needs to be like a technology teenager and become curious and tech-savvy.
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