Being a leader is more than telling others what to do. 

Often, it involves showing the way and leading by example. When you have key soft skills and technical proficiency, it will be far easier to be a great leader in your organization.

Managing data was at the top of Time’s list of vital career skills. Technology cannot be overlooked, no matter what industry you work in. Here are five technology skills that will make you a better leader.

Using Virtual Communication Tools

More and more full-time employees are working from home, and companies frequently use independent contractors as advances in technology make staying in touch simple. If you can manage a virtual team using key software, you will have a skill that is in exceptionally high demand.

Communicating remotely isn’t easy. Body language is a major part of how people send and receive information, as is tone of voice. Many people say that only 7% of communication is about the actual words spoken.

As a leader, you can use a variety of tools to overcome communication barriers. You can use video conferencing to bring a lot of non-verbal communication back to remote teams. There are also a variety of project management and collaboration tools available.

Managing remote teams effectively is a key technology skill for today’s leaders.

Familiarity with Your Company’s Tech

Whether you work for a technology company or a manufacturer, all organizations use technology. As an effective leader, you need to be aware of the details of how the technology that’s important to your business works.

Obviously, this doesn’t mean that you have to be able to build the company’s tech from scratch, but if you have little to no idea how it works, you won’t be a successful leader. Every day your employees have to use the technology to succeed or create the tech you sell.

If you are not able to skillfully use, understand, and teach others about your company’s technology, you will be limited in how far you can go as a leader. Technology skills are not declining, they are instead becoming more complex, and you can be on the leading edge.

Understanding Data Analysis

As a leader, you need to be aware of the data your company generates and how to use it to its full potential. In today’s computerized and internet-connected world, every organization produces a wealth of customer data that can be mined for insight.

Data science is an essential business tool for leaders, not just the analysts who create reports. Analytics is about both technical skills and thinking skills. You should know how to separate good data from bad data, understand how assumptions affect your understanding, and more.

When you can stand up and give a presentation based on data you truly understand, you’ll bring additional insight into the situation. You can give excellent recommendations that are not based on faulty assumptions or an incomplete picture of a situation.

As a leader, you also make important choices about which problems in the business should be investigated and solved. When you understand the data available and the impact that each concern is having on your bottom line, you will be far better able to make these decisions.

Process Analysis and Improvement

No matter what industry you work in, processes govern workflow and production.

Understanding these processes is vital for any leader, but you can take things a step further. Become a better leader by developing skills in process analysis and improvement.

Understanding a process requires you to use technology skills, analysis, critical thinking, and more. You will need to be able to map the flow of work and detect slowdowns. You will need to understand how much a process change will cost and how much money it will save.

Perhaps most importantly, process improvements require change management. This requires the use of both technology and people skills to help your staff understand and adapt to change. There are many ways to encourage buy-in, and an excellent leader will have the skills required to help with the transition.

Data Security

Understanding and managing the security of data is a task that should concern every leader. From customer data protection to proprietary company information, data is a key asset in all businesses.

You may think that data security is a concern for IT, rather than for leaders like you. That’s far from the case. 80% of companies say that “end user carelessness” is the biggest security threat to their organizations.

As a leader, you can have a lot of influence on how well you and your team use security processes. When you fully understand the importance and process of data security, you can become an advocate for data safety. This technology skill helps you become a significant asset to your organization.

The Need for Technology Skills Is Increasing

As the “internet of things,” the cloud, and other technological aspects of business grow, the need for technology skills will increase as well. As a leader, you have an obligation to your organization to learn all you can to support your company.

When you gain these key skills, you will be able to lead not just from authority but by example. Your understanding of key technology will help your employees build respect for you. It will also contribute to higher level leaders seeing you as an asset to the company.

No one can become indispensable, but the fastest way to become replaceable is to stop learning and developing your skills. Instead, take the time to study how you can support remote teams. Learn the ins and outs of your company’s technology. Learn how to analyze data and keep it secure. Work on process improvements and change management.

When you master technology skills along with the usual soft skills of leadership, such as communication, you will be head and shoulders above many other leaders. You’ll stand out, and will have many opportunities to advance your career!

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