Tech Leadership Skills for 2024

Everyone is short on time, and senior leaders are especially so. That makes investing in your personal growth much harder. Whatever you spend your time on, it better be worth it because you’re probably not going to be doing a lot and don’t have time to spare. With that in mind, I decided to write about a few areas that I think are not getting enough attention: Business savvy, profitability thinking, boring management, and innovation.

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Business Savvy

Life’s not a so-so episode of Silicon Valley. No one finds it funny or charming anymore to see an executive who doesn’t understand enough about matters outside their purview due to their “geekiness.” A highly effective executive can have intelligent discourse with peers, and that requires moving away from the techie corner and learning what’s going on. That will allow you to suggest the right approaches, ask the right questions, and be an actual part of the executive team.

Ensure that you’re present in the right meetings. Learn what your peers are doing and what they’re measured on. Understand the acronyms and slides they’re presenting. Speak business when communicating with peers or the CEO instead of drowning them in tech jargon.

Profitability Thinking

A subset of business-mindedness that’s becoming extremely important nowadays is knowing how to help drive the company toward profitability. That’s something many tech leaders never had to consider over careers that span a decade. But things are different now, and it’s back in vogue. Don’t automatically reach out to the “cloud optimization” lever.

Profitability should be core to the way technology is conceptualized. For example, no matter the cloud costs, there are offerings that will never be worth the overhead they put on the engineering organization or even turn you into a de facto professional services team. Build highly profitable engineering teams.

Boring Management

Leaders who do have time to learn seem to prefer the more “sexy” parts of management, like working on their public speaking or creating personal brands, and less about the basics of leadership. I keep repeating it like a broken record, but you have to get pretty damn good in coaching and feedback. Otherwise, your organization will not achieve anything remarkable, and the team will, at best, remain “as-is” instead of getting better with time.

How effective is your coaching? How many of the people who you’ve managed have made tangible progress that you can attribute, in part, to your assistance? How clear is your feedback as given to your team and peers? Creating amazing teams requires coaching for (your) sanity.


One last skill for this time is learning to explore and seize innovation. This, like the rest of the skills here, should be done effectively and get results. Hackathons that look nice on LinkedIn but change nothing aren’t innovation. Neither is spending months “incubating” what your AI approach should be.

Actually, let’s use AI as an example that’s on everyone’s mind. If you’ve spent no time on it at all, you’re acting like a modern luddite. Contrast that with teams that are trying to slap “AI” on every feature—they’re probably overdoing it. Unless you’re a deep tech company that needs to be a trailblazer, you don’t need to be all the way over there. AI is going to shake our industry profoundly, but it’s going to take time. AGI won’t likely change your roadmap this year or the next one. After all, these models that we’re told can “pass the bar exam” spit out nonsense when asked how to make a Negroni. We have time.

Are you cultivating your innovation portfolio so your organization experiments rapidly, adopting what works and discarding what doesn’t? How many failed experiments do you have? Is innovation coming bottom up, utilizing everyone’s brilliance, or is it limited to a handful of “architects” or something similar?

Again, I’ll cover some of these topics in my upcoming livestream series, which is on sale for a few more days. Check it out here.