Recently, at the Women Techmakers 2019 summit in Belfast, I gave a talk on my journey from problem solver to leader at Made to Engage. It was an amazing (and somewhat nerve-racking!) experience talking to almost 300 people about my passion for tech and how this has led to a leadership role at a growing agency that shares my love of technology.
The learnings from this event made clear that diverse workforces are key to fostering innovation. And that's not the only change transforming the traditional workplace. With hierarchical management in decline and artificial intelligence on the rise, the technology sector is demanding new modes of leadership.
How will leaders adapt to the changing modern workplace to steer their businesses towards success? In my time at Made to Engage, I've come to understand that there are three ways in which leaders will need to grow to successfully lead the tech agency of tomorrow.
In the future it will be more important than ever for leaders to communicate a consistent and engaging vision of the company and its strategy to employees. This is especially true given the speed of change in the tech world. The best leaders will be conscious of their own strengths and blind spots and will overcome these to be as accessible as they can to all employees.
I make sure every decision relates back to Made to Engage's vision of achieving digital success for our clients. But that doesn’t stop me rolling up my sleeves and getting involved if a situation arises in a production environment where I can add value!
As a 'reformed' developer (something I still miss) I need the team to educate me in some of the latest technologies we're leveraging for clients, whether it's the Internet Of Things, blockchain or automation. And in return, I keep the team informed about new strategies and evolving goals.
All good leaders understand the value of data in the workplace and use the resulting insights to fuel greater innovation and operational efficiency. AI can deliver deep data driven insights to a leadership team and has been crucial to us at Made to Engage.
As the company grows, I simply don’t have time to interact with every person on the team daily. We used to do a daily stand up for the entire company but that would take hours now! So, we use bots and do virtual daily stand ups. We do a 'mood report' on a Friday using a bot and utilise AI to look for trends on how people are feeling at the end of the week.
The bots and AI yield data quickly which has enabled greater efficiency by allowing faster responses to any issues that are highlighted, creating a happier and more productive workforce. However it is vital to demonstrate to employees that you're using their data in the right way to gain their trust.
Workforces are becoming increasingly diverse. At Made to Engage, we have employees from as far afield as Brazil, New Zealand and Canada - not forgetting County Fermanagh! In addition, one third of the Senior Management Team within Made to Engage are women. This reflects the company's vision that diverse viewpoints are needed to successfully deliver to our clients.
What’s needed is for leaders to bring people with different backgrounds and perspectives together to collaborate as a team. To succeed in this, leaders will need to draw on their emotional intelligence to enthuse employees with a shared sense of purpose. Leaders make other leaders and it's okay to turn the spotlight on others. At Made to Engage we have created a team where everyone is empowered to lead and equipped with the right skills to keep us at the forefront of innovation across EMEA.
The journey ahead may seem challenging but if tech leaders work on these skills now before long they will be part of the culture. The sooner leaders get rid of outdated modes of leadership and the sooner they start bringing in new ones, the more likely they are to succeed in their digital transformation. It has certainly worked for us at Made to Engage.