Tech Leadership: Skills and Traits Essential for Success

For a software engineer thinking about moving into a leadership role, having great technical ability and experience is only the start of the journey. Leadership in the dynamic and fast paced world of technology involves a blend of continued hands-on technical work along with people leadership and carrying out strategic initiatives.

Tech leadership is becoming more important, with architectures, platforms, and teams becoming larger, more complex, and more integrated – great leaders are indispensable in high performing technology teams. The team at 6B got together recently to discuss what makes a good tech leader and what skills and traits are essential for success.

Mixing Big Picture Thinking with Getting Stuff Done

A great tech leader has to be good at high level strategic thinking in balance with pragmatism and getting things done. Tech leaders are measured on impact and results, it is important to keep a balance, but above all to stay pragmatic – good tech leaders are high-agency, they set a direction and get to work on getting things done.

Focusing on Communication and People Skills

Besides being great at tech, leaders need great communication and people skills. It’s not just about understanding the tech; it’s also about explaining it in a way that non-technical people will understand. Plus, you have got to be good at building relationships and inspiring your coworkers and clients to achieve success – it is a number one priority.

Sales in Tech Leadership

Sales skills are very important for a tech leader, for both promoting ideas and concepts to clients and to internal teams. Most good tech professionals do their jobs well, but at the same time, they know there are tools or processes that can be implemented to make their jobs easier and benefit the company or customer. However, many of them never get an opportunity to implement those systems, processes or technologies because they don’t know how to sell their vision effectively.

Active Listening

Every leader needs the ability to listen and consider people’s opinions as they make decisions. A skilled tech professional may be used to being an expert, but if they want to transition to become a powerful leader, they must master active listening.

People Management

Technology projects are typically team-driven by members with different skill sets. To grow as a tech leader, learn more about people-management skills, which are essential if you’re going to handle medium to large teams with diverse skill sets. It’s not necessary to be a great project manager, but you do need the skills to understand the EQ side of the people who are part of your team.

Keeping in The Code

Tech leaders must be in the code writing software with their teams on a daily basis to remain relevant and to be effective as a leader. Recent technology news has highlighted the problems that happen when tech leaders lose their acumen and ability. Whether it is fixing bugs, implementing new features, or identifying core issues, tech leaders need to be brilliant engineers and working within their teams first and foremost.

Delegation And Coaching

You will have seen many talented tech professionals struggle in their transition from star performer to leader. The best ones are the people who know how to delegate, coach and give their team members the freedom to make mistakes. We believe one of the best leadership skills is the ability to bring out the best in everyone around you.

Business Acumen

Tech professionals need to have business acumen if they wish to move into leadership positions. They must see their work from the perspective of their clients and their internal stakeholders and sharpen their communication skills so that they’re capable of translating technology into the language of business.


Empathy – for both customers and team members – is a key skill for a technology professional who wants to become a leader. Empathy for customers ensures that the technology solutions you create are spot-on and that the advice that you give to customers is well received and accurate. And understanding the aspirations, difficulties and preferences of your team members and customers goes a long way toward collectively achieving the best outcomes.

Team Building

For technology professionals who want to succeed in leadership positions, the capacity to build and lead a high-performing team is a crucial competency. It not only requires a ‘roll up your sleeves’ attitude, but also excellent leadership abilities and empathy. You must have the ability to foster an environment that values technical excellence, diversity, equity and inclusion in the workplace – a culture of trust, respect and open communication, focused on learning, innovation, and delivering results as a team.

An Obsession With Impact

A tech leader needs the ability to constantly ask the question, “So what?” And they need to ask it until they get to a point where the question doesn’t make sense. Doing so will help a tech leader to be impact-obsessed and to focus on doing the right things, rather than doing things right. It is easy to get lost in fancy technology, but often, the solution to a complex problem lies in leveraging simple technology that’s focused on the user experience.

Trust In Your Team Members

Tech leaders must have the ability to let go and trust what their teams are doing. When working in a technical position, we can be confident in our skills and sharpen them to the point where we are experts. Yet, in a leadership position, you have others who might do tasks differently. Trusting employees and not micromanaging can be hard and is a skill that takes practice to get right.

Commitment To Accessibility And Inclusion

Accessibility and inclusion go a long way toward setting leaders apart from their peers. Beyond meeting legal requirements, they motivate teams who associate positive values with such an agenda. At the same time, as a leader, you minimise legal and reputational risk, protect the organisation’s reputation, inspire innovation, improve the user experience and fulfil social responsibilities.

Ready to accelerate your technology project?

Chat to our team of experts and let's see how we can help you.