Do Your Leaders Need to be Technocrats to be Successful?

With the U.S. Presidential elections behind us, we’ll continue to see fallout for some time.  Hillary Clinton was considered by many in Silicon Valley to be a “Technocrat“. What’s a technocrat you ask?

A technocrat is someone who’s an advocate or proponent of a Technocracy, and part of the technology skilled elite. A technocracy is a theoretical organized structure of governance where the leaders are actually selected based on their technological knowledge. Like most things, though, the media has used the term to describe an individual who is pro-technology, for the most part.

On the flip side, President-elect Trump (boy that was odd writing!) is not considered to be a technocrat.

One of the reasons millennials voted for Clinton in such huge numbers was she was considered to be more technology savvy than Trump and advocated for technology more than her opponent. The reality is both are 70-year-old baby boomers, who probably couldn’t set up their own email on an iPhone, but one had a better marketing team than the other!

Regardless of actual technological skill, I still believe it comes back the mindset, not age, that you’re either pro-technology (technology is good and will help us be better), or you see technology as fine, but it’s not life-changing (yeah, I can see what you’re saying, but the old way works as well). So few are now anti-technology that it’s not even worth talking about.

It begs the question, though, that if a younger workforce has shown they prefer leaders who are Technocrats, should you be looking for that trait when you go and select leaders?

I believe we should be selecting leaders who are Technocrats and here are some reasons why:

1. A younger workforce is more likely to follow a leader who is pro-technology.

2. We need our leaders pushing our organizations forward and one of the best ways is through technology advances.

3. Having a technocrat mindset is more akin to having a strategic mindset. If you’re constantly thinking about how technology can advance your business, you’re being strategic, as compared to just running your operations the same way they always have been.

The hard part of selecting technocrats is almost anyone in today’s work world under the age of sixty will tell you, “of course, I’m pro-technology!” When in fact, most have no idea what that even means. Saying you’re pro-technology and being pro-technology are two very different things.

Yeah, I use Netflix. No, I have no idea how my kids set it up. Just because you watch Netflix doesn’t make you pro-technology. Liking technology and taking a keen interest in how it works to make your life better are two different things. Technocrats want to know more. They might not be able to write code, but they dig in beyond just the surface.

The key to selecting technocrat leaders is to have them give you specific examples around how they’ve used technology to push their organization or department forward? What was their role in the selection process? Why did they select one technology over another? Technocrats will love these questions and will really take you into the weeds with their answers.

Just being a technocrat won’t make a leader candidate a good leader. We all know all of the other leader traits we are looking for in selecting our next leaders. It’s my belief, though, that as we move forward, our leaders need to be technology savvy if they truly want to connect and lead a younger workforce.


2 thoughts on “Do Your Leaders Need to be Technocrats to be Successful?

  1. Tim, I think you nailed the key point for me in #3. Being a technocrat may have cosmetic appeal to some, but those leaders that get it right see technology as one of the ways to make things better.

    Technology should do things computers can do, humans should do things only humans should do (where we need critical thinking and reasoning). Leaders that get that are thinking about how to maximize all of their resources to the greatest degree; technical, financial, and human.

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