Definition of Technology Leadership

55038 2022-01-08 08:36

The Problem

We, engineers, often boast about leadership without a clear definition of what we are saying. We boast with authority - X years of experience, intimidating titles from prestigious companies, and quotes from big names. We boast with emotions - close friends achieving financial freedom, leaders making a huge impact, and how exciting business is taking off. We boast with logic - the team should be united, we are a team, and then we should be united.

It is OK if boasting is a personal matter. However, unfortunately, flattery lives in the nature of hierarchical corporate life, especially for those from East Asia. Meanwhile, people in the United States tend to say good things to each other so that both parties can feel better. Praises are literally everywhere.

As a result, leadership is like teenage sex: everyone talks about it, nobody really knows how to do it, everyone thinks everyone else is doing it, so everyone claims they are doing it.

The Definition

Here are the definitions to distill the clarity from those chaotic ramblings of the mass.

What is leadership?

Leadership is organizing people to solve challenging problems.

What does it really mean?

  1. Leadership is people-centered. We should solve problems for the people, by the people, and of the people.
  2. Problems should be challenging. Those problems could be personal, regional, or world-class. However, if they are not challenging enough to the protagonist, requiring it to break through the status quo and brining shiny changes to itself or to the environment, we will not admire such person and say it is a leader.
  3. Leadership without execution sums up everything to zero. It is not a capability but a trophy. We either have achieved it or not.

What is technology?

Technology is a scientific way of solving problems.

What does it really mean?

  1. Technology applies science. It organizes knowledge based on facts, and with testability and predictability. For example, introduce tests to programming, and then programming becomes more scientific than just an art.
  2. Technology takes pragmatism. Technology serves a purpose - solving problems for people. Designer does not equal to artist. Engineer does not equal to programmer.
  3. Technology itself creates value by transforming low-value input to high-value output.

What is innovation?

Innovation is creating something new.

What does it really mean?

  1. The market is efficient, and the competition is everywhere. You are not alone with technologies. There is no reason that a powerful technology belongs only to you. Technology is not an economic moat, and we could hardly rely on a single technology that is losing comparative advantages over time.
  2. People won’t buy things to replace what they already own that solve their problems well.
  3. Innovation bears costs and risks. Try more and befriend failures.

Well, what is technology leadership?

Technology leadership is organizing people to solve challenging problems with technologies, usually through innovations.


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