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Do Techies Make Good Leaders?


In a recent Wall Street Journal article, I came across one my favorite questions. Do techies make good leaders? The old school managers, always skeptical about techie leaders, would say no. Technology guys will say; they are the only choice.

Most of the high-tech companies are relatively new. Therefore there is no such a thing as legacy management procedure in place. Also, high-tech companies are super dynamic by nature. A product today will be obsolete in ten years time. Same as its management procedure, planning and other related process. Procter & Gamble or Jonson & Jonson management procedures and therefore their leaders can and should follow same rules. In these companies, the core products will change but not dramatically. Apple or Cisco does not have a core product for more than ten years! Legacy switches and routers are replacing with cloud computing and virtual switches. iPods are replacing by iPads and God knows “i” what in five years time. All the management procedures and process which developed for one family of product should change in couple of years to be compatible with new needs and changes of new products.

Whereas old school managers are process oriented and follow a solid set or rules, techie-leaders and managers are more dynamic. They are more fascinated by product and technology behind that rather than management process. Therefore, they can understand the changes and change accordingly. For techie managers, the product is the most valuable asset not the management team. Therefore, they value the brains behind the product rather than anything else in the organization and can maintain the values and brains behind the product. A techie company needs a techie manager. If a technology company is successful with a non-techie leader, probably it is already changed to a non-technology company.

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