5 Qualities of Great Leaders in the IT Industry
Most leadership training courses preach certain qualities that make a leader great. Great leaders inspire, they are fearless, they are visionaries, excellent communicators, build a safe-to-fail environment, root for their subordinates to grow, and so on. There are a number of traits common among great leaders all over the world across all kinds of industries. In this article, we will stick to leaders in the technology industry, and see what we can learn from them. Let’s get to it:
1. They Have An Eye For Untapped Potential
I am sure you’ve had your fill of stories about Jack Ma, the founder of Alibaba.com. From all the stories you hear, it seems as if he woke up one day with this idea for a website that connected suppliers and vendors to retailers and the rest was history, but that’s not the case. Before he was setting up Alibaba, Jack Ma had already had tried his hand at his version of Chinese Yellow Pages – one of the first websites of its type in China. He set up the website because he wanted to introduce the internet to an untapped market. This was back in the early 90s when people were still using dial-up modems and very few people had access to the internet (only 0.4% of the world’s population had access to the internet, as compared to the 55% today).
Jack Ma saw potential in this up and coming technology, tried his hand at a number of websites, and finally found the success he was looking for in Alibaba. He saw untapped potential in the technology (internet) and the market (China) and that led to his success.
2. They Are Charismatic
Arguably, the term charismatic leadership is synonymous with the name Steve Jobs. I mean in any kind of leadership training, even outside the world of technology, Steve Jobs’s name comes up on more than one occasion throughout the curriculum. He turned Apple into a juggernaut in the tech industry and laid the foundation for something much larger than an organization.
So what exactly is a charismatic leader? A charismatic leader is an extraordinary communicator with the ability to persuade others, rally them to a common goal, make them feel like part of something bigger, and connect with his/her followers on a deep, emotional level. They have the ability to transform an organization. Now think of all these qualities and look at what Steve Jobs achieved with Apple. I mean, he gave a new meaning to the phrase cult-like following.
When Steve Jobs returned to Apple in 1997, the stock price was dwindling at less than a dollar. When he finally passed the torch to Tim Cook in 2011, the price was more than 50 dollars and the company was making billions in net profit. Sure, there were some ups and downs on the road to success, but Jobs’ charismatic leadership ensured that the company persevered.
3. They Are Passionate
When we think about technology companies doing the most innovative things out there, Tesla tops the list of names that come to mind. Not only is the company working on some ground-breaking, eco-friendly technologies that will help save the environment, it is also planning to be a pioneer in space colonization. And behind this amazing company and its extraordinary endeavors is Elon Musk.
When we compare Elon Musk to other technology leaders, we find one huge difference: he is driven by his passion to make humanity a multi-planetary species. He made his fortune with PayPal and moved on to his real passion project in 2002. He is invested in his organization to the point where he started living at their Nevada headquarters to help meet production challenges when the company missed its target in Q3, 2017.
4. They Are Problem Solvers
Reed Hastings founded Pure Software in 1991 and made $750 million in 1995 when the company was acquired by Rational Software. He proceeded to co-found Netflix in 1997 and changed the game in the entertainment industry, so much so that Putin thinks of him as a viable threat in cultural warfare. You must already be aware of two famous facts about Netflix: the idea originated when Blockbuster charged Hastings $40 in late fee, and the same company rejected Netflix’s offer of buying 49% of its stock in the year 2000. What we do not hear about is how Reed Hastings evolved from his days of being dubbed as the ‘Animal’ to the problem solver that he is today.
By his own admission, Hastings was a little direct and sometimes even confrontational in his early days, but now he is more of a problem solver. “For me the thrill is making a contribution by solving hard problems.” He is one of the few leaders in technology that do not have an office. He roams around the Netflix headquarters having discussions and solving problems where he can, and has created an environment where employees are deeply focused on their work and can take time off whenever they need as long as they are getting the job done.
5. They Are Patient
Patience and technology seem like two things that do not go together. We live in the digital age, have short attention spans, and want instant gratification, so much so, that people are calling patience a forgotten virtue. When you hear the term successful tech leader, the image of someone who achieved overnight success comes to mind. However, if you take a closer look at successful people, you will notice that they went through a ton of trials and tribulations, remained steadfast in the face of turmoil, and were patient albeit relentless in the pursuit of their goals. Eric Schmidt, the former Executive Chairman of Google and Alphabet Inc. is a great example of a patient leader.
Eric Schmidt enjoyed a long and successful reign at Google from 2001 to 2017, and he evolved as a leader during that time. He has been described as a patient leader who realizes the importance of giving people the time to deliver results. Out of all the qualities we discussed in this article, patience is unique in that it cannot be taught through leadership courses – you have to develop this ability within you by realizing its importance.
I hope you enjoyed reading this article. If you are looking for leadership classes that will help propel your career in the right direction, do check out our leadership training courses.