2023's Must-Have 20 Technical Leadership Skills for Aspiring IT Leaders

Despite the constant changes in the modern world, the IT industry remains a stable sector that is expected to experience significant growth. A recent report by Statista suggests that the revenue generated from software will approach $800 billion by 2026. Apart from the consistent growth, the IT industry also offers numerous professional development opportunities, which attract potential experts. According to Hired, software engineers are primarily motivated by new challenges and continuous learning, as well as higher salaries. It is not uncommon for technical experts to become technical leaders due to their motivation to grow. This article will highlight the essential skillset of technical leaders and what employers should consider when hiring them.

1. Using artificial intelligence tools such as ChatGPT from OpenAI and Google Bard

All technology leaders should develop the ability to use ChatGPT effectively. They should set an example by keeping up-to-date with this AI technology, to promote its widespread adoption and stimulate innovation within their organization. Moreover, ChatGPT or Bard provides leaders with advanced communication tools, such as improved customization of interactions with customers, employees, and other stakeholders.

1. Using artificial intelligence tools such as ChatGPT from OpenAI and Google Bard

All technology leaders should develop the ability to use ChatGPT effectively. They should set an example by keeping up-to-date with this AI technology, to promote its widespread adoption and stimulate innovation within their organization. Moreover, ChatGPT or Bard provides leaders with advanced communication tools, such as improved customization of interactions with customers, employees, and other stakeholders.

3. Communication, Collaboration, And Delegation

As a technical lead, one of your primary responsibilities is to guide and support your team. This requires you to provide precise instructions and establish unambiguous expectations. Employing both written and verbal communication will help guarantee that your team comprehends their duties. Effective communication is crucial for establishing trust, promoting cooperation towards common goals, and encouraging positive change. Inadequate communication can result in misunderstandings, eroding relationships and impeding progress.

4. Attention to detail

Regarding the accomplishment of a task, paying careful attention to details involves the capacity to concentrate on both minor and major elements of a project. Leaders who possess this trait are more likely to produce work that is free of errors. Technical leaders need to be meticulous and effective in their research. Enhancing the ability to focus on the complexities of a task or project can assist a technical leader in becoming more reliable and comprehensive for both their team and higher-level management.

5. Creating ML Models

Tech leaders must be able to create a machine learning model and understand how it works and the value it creates. The faster organizations can create and maintain detection, prediction and prescription models, the more agile they will be. Tech leaders need to understand ML to be able to get benefits from it.

6. Communicating Cyber Risk

Given the imminent regulations, it is crucial for tech executives to convey the impact of cyber risks on their businesses. The latest Network and Information Security 2 (NIS2) regulations in Europe and the anticipated modifications to SEC guidelines demand that boards and executives bridge the divide between technical jargon related to vulnerabilities and the actual business consequences, such as financial losses and production downtime.

7. Time Management

As a technical leader, you have a dual role that requires you to navigate between two distinct domains. The first domain is tech-focused and requires deep concentration, while the second domain is people-oriented and demands frequent interaction, context-switching, and strong interpersonal skills. Effective time management skills can help you balance these two domains and complete your tasks efficiently. By adopting tools such as to-do lists, calendars, and project management software, you can improve your time management skills and make the most of your time.

8. Leading Remote Teams

As we move towards 2023, more and more businesses are expected to adopt a hybrid or remote work model. Consequently, the skill of leading remote teams effectively will become increasingly vital. In a world where remote work is becoming ubiquitous, IT leaders who can manage geographically dispersed teams with proficiency will be well-equipped to thrive in this rapidly evolving landscape and support their organization's success.

9. Understanding And Adopting Effective AI And Automation

Having a comprehensive grasp of AI and automation and leveraging them effectively is essential for achieving sustained success. Failure to comprehend their optimal usage and potential growth could result in your competitors gaining a significant edge, and latecomers may find it challenging to catch up. While executives don't necessarily need to be well-versed in every technical aspect, it is more crucial to recognize where the technology should not be utilized and where it can be applied appropriately, as well as understanding the expenses involved in owning and operating the technology.

10. The Art Of Selling

All individuals, including tech executives, are involved in sales in some capacity. Therefore, tech executives must aim to become proficient in the art of selling, just like how they pursue technical, project management, and Agile certifications. This involves acquiring expertise in sales processes and tools like the Sandler or Challenger methods. By doing so, tech executives can develop a fundamental skill set that is necessary for achieving success in their careers.

11. Data analysis

Organizations require leaders who possess the ability to handle substantial amounts of data and apply it to arrive at informed decisions. Analyzing, refining, translating, and representing data visually to identify crucial patterns and valuable conclusions is a fundamental aspect of data analysis. By gathering and scrutinizing colossal data sets, tech leaders can boost customer loyalty, mitigate risks, and enhance the efficacy of operations.

12. Data Storytelling

Although challenging, becoming proficient in data storytelling can enable you to market all your initiatives to stakeholders and board members effectively. Being knowledgeable in data does not equate to being a skilled data storyteller. Numerous tech leaders may have a fondness for their dashboards and SQL cheat sheets, but such technical jargon is unlikely to be comprehensible to the board. Therefore, it is essential to master the art of presenting a compelling narrative that brings data to life from inception to completion, in order to gain approval for your projects.

13. Business Acumen

For tech executives, possessing comprehensive business acumen is indispensable. As business requirements continue to evolve, a blend of technical abilities and business skills is a valuable combination. By altering one's perspective, one can devise straightforward solutions to intricate problems that foster competitive strategies and steer businesses towards success.

14. Understanding Of Different Global Cultures

Since the Covid pandemic, remote work has become customary and geographical limitations have been eliminated. Tech leaders now require the ability to handle a culturally diverse workforce and collaborate with remote colleagues whom they may never encounter in person. Acquiring knowledge about different cultures and work methods will enable tech executives to accomplish their objectives as they interact with a broader range of individuals.

15. Strategic Thinking

With the rapid acceleration of technological advancements and disruptions, strategic thinking is crucial to stay competitive. Companies must be able to anticipate and adapt to these changes swiftly. Strategic thinking aids executives in recognizing potential opportunities and risks, making informed decisions, and leading their companies through uncertain and transformative periods. 

16. Coding

It's essential for every technology executive to have proficiency in coding. Learning how to code significantly transforms one's problem-solving and strategic capabilities, particularly with emerging technology stack patterns. The ability to access and manipulate code enables individuals to develop and implement tools that can enhance productivity exponentially, and optimize their technology stack for greater success. Achieving mastery in coding is also critical to cultivating adaptability in an ever-evolving technology landscape.

17. Risk Management

Technical leaders are responsible for comprehending the application or project's demands before selecting a programming language, framework, or methodology. Additionally, it is the responsibility of the technical lead to evaluate and mitigate potential risks before incorporating any new components into existing applications. Technical leaders must understand the potential effects of various technical decisions on the project to manage risks efficiently.

18. Multi-tasking

Employers seek a technical lead who can handle several projects at once and still meet deadlines while delivering inventive products. Enhancing your organizational and decision-making abilities can aid you in managing your workload more effectively. A technical lead who multitasks effectively is capable of shifting their focus from one task to the next. Multi-tasking enables you to prioritize tasks and complete the most critical and urgent requests first for success.

19. Stakeholder management

Stakeholder management entails preserving favourable connections with different stakeholders, including executives and customers. As a technical leader, it is vital to comprehend how to handle clients, managers, and business associates, along with all the accompanying expectations. Your team members are also crucial stakeholders, and you are accountable for efficient communication and keeping them motivated.

20. Organisation

In many leadership positions, being well-organized is a crucial element. As the technical leader, you are responsible for managing the team's knowledge and data, ensuring that it is available and retrievable to any team member whenever necessary. You may also need to invest additional time and effort to supervise and encourage the team's workflow and coordination.