5 Traits of a Technology Leader in the Financial Services Sector
1. Business Leader first, Technology Leader second
A leader needs to fully understand the wider company vision first before giving the technology vision any thought. For any digital transformation programme to be successful and have any longevity, it must not only be mostly aligned but fully aligned with the wider company vision.
Why is this important? – to create buy-in to your vision you need to be able to effectively communicate it. But you can only communicate the why if you fully understand the why in the first place.
2. Strategic Thinker
Nothing as far-reaching and as all-consuming as technology in the modern world will be successfully adopted without a precise, well-thought-out strategy. Again, this involves creating a strategic roadmap that keeps adoption and the wider business targets front of mind. Questions like: where is the low-hanging fruit that will get you early buy-in to your wider vision?
But this is still quite superficial and being strategic involves going much deeper.
In the words of Jim Collins, what is your Big Hairy Audacious Goal (BHAG)? Or your compelling, long-term goal that is going to inspire your workforce to galvanise behind a common purpose?
This shows that strategies must work at multiple levels and multiple timelines. A BHAG is going to do little to inspire action in the here and now because it just seems too far-fetched. But if what we do today feels like it is continuously driving us closer to that long-term goal then it is going to create that all-important purpose.
Lastly, and aligned with our longer-term goals, you need to think about strategic recruitment. Skill gaps in technology positions are a huge problem and finding people who both have the right skill and are a good cultural fit can sometimes feel like a needle in a haystack. Planning is critical to being successful when it comes to recruitment, the last thing you want is a lack of personnel holding up your execution roadmap.
3. Change Leader
A technology leader also needs to be a change leader. If your digital transformation programme is going to be successful it is going to cause widespread change and upheaval from old ways of working – that’s the point. However, managing this change to minimise friction and maximise adoption is a delicate process.
A successful tactic that many effective leaders have deployed is creating a Change Agent Network. Your Change Agents are facilitated by you as the overall Change Leader to articulate your vision at every level of the business using a narrative that they know will land powerfully based on their experience working side-by-side with these people.
4. Cultural Architect
Being a cultural architect is multi-faceted. It often stems back to motivation and psychologists have been able to narrow down three basic needs that act as key motivators. People want to feel they have autonomy. They are driven to become masters at their work. And they want to feel like what they are doing day-to-day has a purpose. Tapping into these basic needs will drastically improve productivity and creativity which is what you need if you are going to build an innovative workforce.
But understanding what drives your people involves understanding your people. The best way to achieve this is to interact with your business, not just at an executive level but also an operational level. This will give you a crucial understanding of what the day-to-day reality is for your employees.
5. Risk Manager
Risk management is often a key characteristic that leaders overlook when it comes to digital transformation. Often as soon as the value penny drops, leaders want to deploy the technology they have invested in as fast as possible because every minute it is sat on the sidelines feels like lost value. But it’s important to recognise that the forecasted return on investment can only be realised if adoption is maximised and the workforce is bought in. And for that, they need time to digest.
To manage the risk first you must do your due diligence and work out what the threats to success are. Just off the top of my head: Is your workforce going to require a lot of training to be upskilled on the technology you have invested in? How willing are they to invest their time into doing the necessary training? How resistant to change is your workforce? How have they responded to change in the past and which specific groups are your sceptics?
Ultimately, risks lie wherever you look and each one of them individually has the power to skim large amounts off the top of your return on investment, extend your payback period or even derail your transformation entirely, let alone a combination of a few. In this regard, patience is the name of the game. A good leader, like a good poker player, doesn’t spend a lot of time looking at their hand, they spend it looking at their opposition; their biggest risk to success.
At Crossfuze we work with some inspirational leaders that have used the ServiceNow platform to completely revolutionise how their business operates. We’re always on the lookout for the next exciting partnership to get involved with. If you are interested in discussing your digital transformation strategy with us in more detail, please reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org or reach out to me personally at email@example.com.