What Feature Does Technology Followership Share With Technology Leadership?

September 11, 2023
David Sunnyside

Technology leadership and technology followership have a critical impact on the success of businesses. In fact, successful business leaders often possess both leadership and followership skills. Leaders are able to inspire their teams and lead the way in innovation, while followers take direction from these leaders and implement new ideas. But it’s not easy to achieve a perfect balance of these two factors.

For example, high-profile incidents at companies like Enron, BP and Lloyds, TSB have led to a loss of trust in leadership. Meanwhile, digital footprints and instruments that trace personal productivity can also make followers feel their privacy is being invaded. And the blurring of the lines between leaders and followers is also evident in trends such as the gig economy and ‘slashies’ – people who identify themselves by their breadth of interests and skills (a market analyst/app designer/yoga teacher, for instance) rather than their narrow professional categories.

This makes it difficult to determine what goes into a good technology leader, let alone how that compares with a good technology follower. But one important feature that many good technology followers share with excellent technology leadership is openness to new technologies. This includes continually experimenting with different technologies and staying abreast of their latest developments. It also involves understanding customer needs and how a particular technology can help meet those needs.

The most effective technological followers are able to assess whether a genre or individual item of technology will be valuable to their firm, can make reasonably accurate forecasts of when the general state of technological development will reach a point at which it can be productively applied to the firm’s activities, and can manage aspects of transferring that technology within their organisation. This can reduce the risks and costs associated with technological leadership and support low cost or differentiation strategies (Box 3.1).

David Sunnyside
Co-founder of Urban Splatter • Digital Marketer • Engineer • Meditator
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