Defining Leadership for the Tech Industry

Defining Leadership for the Tech Industry

When we talk about leadership in the technology sector, it’s critical to start with a shared understanding of what leadership really is.

There are plenty of misconceptions about what leadership is. Let’s start with looking at what leadership isn’t. True leaders are not:

  • Dominating. Leaders don’t talk in loud voices with intent to suppress others.
  • Controlling. Leaders don’t feel the need to control everything and influence others through that control.
  • Colluding and manipulating. Leaders don’t let a core group hijack things and force everyone else to do what they want.
  • Preferential.  Leaders don’t allow nepotism or showing favoritism to friends.
  • Humiliating. Leaders don’t shame people in front of the group or try to suppress them by bringing up a personal quality in a negative way.

Leadership is not about:

  • Knowing everything,
  • Answering every single question correctly,
  • Coming across as an expert in your field,
  • Solving every single problem accurately and/or quickly,
  • Being the smartest one in the room.

Real leadership goes beyond a personality type or a set of attitudes. Real leaders help the organization accomplish something positive that produces a significant benefit to the organization or community. It should be something that your organization has never done, and it should be done in a way that will inspire others. These people get noticed, and start influencing others. These are the people who get promoted.

Once you become a boss, a designated leader, then the leadership role morphs.  Then, leadership about helping those in your organization, creating open lines of communication, inspiring them to get out of their comfort zone, and sharing your vision with them. Leaders empower their people to take decisive action and calculated risks.  Leaders foster personal connections that build trust to allow them to be empathetic to challenges and help them move ahead. Leaders are truly vested in the progress and well being of their people. Leaders also create accountability (see the info-graphic from leadership thought leader Forum for an info-graphic on how to do this).

All of this takes hard work, but the results are powerful. With this kind of leader, employees proactively volunteer information when trouble arises or when they need to figure out a problem. Organizations are inspired to build great products, and execute in new ways. Further, excellent employees seek this kind of leader out, wanting to work with them again and again. All of that benefits the organization.  It also starts molding the leaders that will lead the next generation.

Leadership driven organizations highlight the importance of broad and deep diversity. These organizations welcome a variety of personalities, ideas, and experiences.

Extroverts & introverts 

Generally, people can be split into two groups: extroverts and introverts. Let’s look at some broad generalizations. Extroverts enjoy being around people, love attention, and are gregarious. Introverts, meanwhile, enjoy tackling single tasks that demand great focus and they like to work independently. Extroverts are often the sales people and project managers. Introverts are often the coders, writers, and architects. Extroverts sell solutions to the team or the customer and introverts solve problems well. Extroverts tend to be the big picture people, while introverts want to understand the details.

At one time, there was an idea that extroverts are better leaders than introverts, but now we know differently. Introverts do become successful leaders, often by establishing strong emotional connections with their team. Introvert leaders help and inspire their people, influence them, and encourage them to step up. They don’t lead the same way as extroverts but can still be highly successful.

It’s a mix

Again not everything is black and white. On the contrary, everything is gray. A successful sales guy could be a 70% extrovert and 30% introvert, where as successful Architect could be 70% introvert and 30% extrovert.  The right extrovert and introvert characteristics need to show up when needed, based on the context and situation. In short, leaders need emotional intelligence.

The other key ingredient is enthusiasm. Real leaders love what they do and have fun doing it. Excitement is contagious and creates teams that are ready to tackle anything. Once, I had a challenging program of rolling out a warehouse management system in seven distribution centers in ten months. The project had a million dollar budget. Our team worked fast, creating a common design and configuration, and deploying very quickly. After the first deployment, the team felt confidant and built on that to do the rest quickly. We succeeded on enthusiasm.

In short, real leadership comes out when people find their true skill and passion and then try to make a difference.  What is your experience? Let me know about the great leaders that you have met in the comments section below.

Originally published at on Feb 27, 2018.

Puga Sankara is the co-founder of Smart Gladiator LLC. Smart Gladiator designs, builds, and delivers market-leading mobile technology for retailers, distributors, and 3PL service providers. SG LoadProof is a patent pending Centralized Enterprise Photo/Video Document System on Cloud for Supply Chain. SG LP is built on the fact that photos & videos are vital docs as important as POs/SOs/Legal Contracts/Fulfillment Orders that reside in ERP/WMS/TMS systems, that serve as compelling, conclusive, unequivocal proof of crucial, critical, vital operations executed in Supply Chain within/across orgs when fulfilling customer orders as well as meeting contractual obligations between orgs as merchandise is transferred between different parties that partake in Supply Chain functions & operations. And these photos/videos data should not be stored in someone’s Smartphone or Email Inbox or in their personal/work Computer, but should be stored in a Centralized Enterprise system, where such data can be pushed into super-fast, stored securely, accessible to all stake holders (CFO/Sales Reps/Customer Support/AR/AP) in an org, as well as facilitates super-fast retrieval/sharing. LP is an Enterprise System of record for Photo/Video docs & is as important as an ERP which is an enterprise system of record for POs, SOs, Legal Contracts between parties etc. that have huge legal ramifications, also as important as a WMS (Warehouse Management System) that hold indispensable shipment & fulfillment data on orders. Like how Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat etc. have evolved into social media platforms/systems that enable individuals to showcase their beauty/pretty clothes/lovely cosmetics/hep coolness etc., LoadProof is an Enterprise system that holds similar photos/videos, but for a different reason, not for show off, but to serve as compelling, conclusive, unequivocal & indisputable system of record and proof that can be presented even in the court of law, when there is a dispute between parties while they execute many facets of the Supply Chain functions & operations. Puga is a supply chain technology professional with more than 25 years of experience in deploying capabilities in the logistics and supply chain domain. His prior roles involved managing complicated mission-critical programs driving revenue numbers, rolling out a multitude of capabilities involving more than a dozen systems, and managing a team of 30 to 50 personnel across multiple disciplines and departments in large corporations such as Hewlett Packard. He has deployed WMS for more than 30 distribution centers in his role as a senior manager with Manhattan Associates. He has also performed process analysis walk-throughs for more than 50 distribution centers for WMS process design and performance analysis review, optimizing processes for better productivity and visibility through the supply chain. Size of these DCs varied from 150,000 to 1.2 million SQFT. Puga Sankara has an MBA from Georgia Tech. He can be reached at [email protected] or visit the company at Also follow him at