How leadership and technology relate to each other in 2015

This year Starbucks appointed a new CEO.

What’s newsworthy about that? He is a technology industry veteran with 16 years at Microsoft. His appointment is a bellwether of what has happened in business over the past decade: Technology is a factor in determining your company’s success.In today’s world, technology is no longer peripheral to your business. It is how companies do business.

The impact of digital technology is pervasive and has created a faster rate of change in most businesses. Software is now running many companies.

According to Gartner, “CIOs disproportionately focus on what is easily measurable (e.g. IT cost), rather than what is more valuable.” As the CEO, your role is to focus on the vision. You now need to understand how technology may reshape your markets, products, competitors and customers. It is no longer OK to delegate technology to IT.

Two key questions

In 2015, understanding technology and where it is headed is a strategic advantage.

If you want to scale or beat your competition, you need to continuously ask your team two questions: How can we use technology to improve our productivity? How can we use technology to grow and scale our business?

If you are a digital native, someone who takes information from multiple multimedia sources rapidly, likes to parallel process, multitasks and is comfortable in both virtual and real spaces, understanding the technology is not a stretch.

But if you have multiple generations on your management team, be aware that valuable members of your team may be slow to embrace technology changes.

Perhaps you are a digital immigrant, someone who is more comfortable with new information that is both slow and controlled, processes singularly, is linear, logical and sequential, and is more comfortable in real spaces than in virtual ones.

Your leadership toolkit will need to include technology savvy, especially if you have valuable team members who embrace new technology.

What great leaders do

Your leadership challenge is to anticipate the technology changes that may impact your business and change the playing field. You and your team then need to adapt while keeping your best people.

Great leaders are masters at change management. Whether you consider yourself a digital native or digital immigrant, to manage the rapid pace of technology you need to make sure your company has a clear vision and the ability to execute.

If your company is missing one of these elements, it can lead to confusion, frustration, anxiety and just plain business failure.

Steps for success

Ask yourself and each member of your team: What are the most important technology trends we need to monitor? Are we digital natives or digital immigrants? What are the implications for our business?

With this knowledge you decide: What to add or change to ensure your business has a clear vision; adequate technology skills, appropriate incentives; and a well understood action plan. ●