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  • Writer's pictureLeeanne Carson-Hughes

Bridging the gap between tech and exec decision makers

I am deeply concerned.


Why are there so few technology experts sitting on Executive teams. I don't mean the CFO who has accountability for tech - I mean true experts who are also great organisational leaders.


I spent a year leading the Tech team at Citycare as part of my other Exec roles. It was the best and worse year of my career. I had no idea what was involved.


Simply put - I didn't know I didn't know.


A year later I moved into a state of now I know I don't know.


This made me slightly more use to the people I had the privilege to lead, and who without their enormous patience in teaching me, I would not have survived and become a better Executive because of this exposure of leading tech.


So, in reflecting on this experience and aligning it with some recent research I have been doing about the skills modern execs should build, I have arrived at the conclusion that for many businesses, they should have tech / leader expertise at the top table.


Why?

  • Massive increase in cyber security risk

  • Complex advancements in tech like AI that may give your business a competitive advantage

  • Huge budgets required to deliver even basic services

  • Fast paced change in many aspects of business

  • The tendency for senior leaders to run off and buy what they want with no "enterprise integration" in their thinking


So we have two options

Existing Executives gain as much expertise in tech as they can or tech experts learn executive leadership.


Ideally both


But do it fast.


Modern Executives need a range of skills (see The Savvy Leader #1 for more details)



There are also 5 strategies you can deploy to bridge the gap for tech leaders currently not at the top table


1. Understand the psyche of your leaders


Most are super busy, over whelmed with work and probably do not realise how little they know.

Senior leaders often also feel stupid asking dumb questions.

Make sharing the right info in the right way with your key execs a top skills of yours.


2. Ensure Cybersecurity and tech risks get equal attention to other organisational risks


Risk registers are a great way for you to ensure your organisation understand the extent of the risks they carry. They get viewed by Boards. This is not just another annoying task, this is a significant influencing opportunity.


Never let a good crisis go to waste. Make sure your Execs know about important issues, failures and attacks in other organisations and share what that means for your organisation.


Fear can be a great motivator for change and budget allocations!


3. Shape, Service and Safeguard - a trifecta for how to bundle the work you deliver

  1. Shape - Provide strategic advice relevant to the organisational strategy

  2. Service - Deliver the basics well, this will be the only way you get to do the sexy stuff

  3. Safeguard - see number 2


4. Utilise audits and Maturity assessments to get attention and alignment


I am not afraid of audits or assessments. For me they were the best way to get the attention of key decision makers and to ensure we aligned the activity, maturity and investment in the right way.


Overall I find them to be a great educational and change management tool if you take key decision makers on a journey while they are being undertaken.


Presenting a finished large document to uninformed execs will not yield you much advantage.


5. If you want to be a senior Tech Leader or Exec - best you get good at leadership!


Tech people - this one is on you.


To be the most effective, you need to be good at things that matter other than tech. Leadership, people skills, great EQ, enterprise leadership, strategy, financial, influencing.


It is these skills that will get you to the top table. Not just your technical expertise.

Check out what Chief Executives told me they look for in their Execs:

https://www.lchcoaching.co.nz/post/i-asked-seven-chief-executives-what-they-look-for-in-their-high-performing-executives


Summary


There is a big opportunity to get better value and advantage out of technology and to manage risk far better than it is being done now.


While I worry that not more tech people are at the top table, I equally worry that not more tech people have built other senior leadership skills.


There is a better way to lead.


Lets get technology expert leaders at more top tables.


Further info


If you want to explore this more, reach out. It might be time for you to have some Executive coaching and build the skills you need.


Follow me on LinkedIn for regular insights.


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