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Understanding the five competencies of transformational technology leadership

Embracing core competencies

Today’s technology leadership roles have changed in the digital era and what skills and capabilities tech executives need to develop to become transformational tech leaders. Deloitte’s 2023 Global Technology Leadership Study, which surveyed and interviewed more than 1,000 technology leaders from various sectors around the world suggests that those who excel not only have core competencies such as tech fluency, data management and monetization, innovation, change management, and business acumen, but they also follow a structured, competencies-based approach where they develop and nurture five distinct abilities across their organizations and leadership teams.

  1. Engineer. This competency requires operational expertise, technical acumen, and a deep commitment to creating operational value. Their primary responsibility is to build, operate, and maintain technology applications and infrastructure to be efficient, effective, and secure.

  2. Architect. Architects can envision, design, and oversee technology environments to help ensure resilience and scalability while maintaining agility. These leaders should also stay ahead of new and emerging technologies and continually explore and experiment to keep their organizations competitive.

  3. Data scientist. These leaders are expected to collect, manage, and analyse data while delivering insights and identifying opportunities to monetize tech assets and drive business growth.

  4. Change agent. Tech leaders with this competency are experts at instigating, managing, and delivering large complex digital transformations across the enterprise. They deliver value by transforming business processes, employee, and customer experiences, and/or business operations.

  5. Owner. Tech leaders, especially at the business-unit level, should have deep business acumen and stakeholder relationships so they can pre-emptively identify business challenges and create innovative solutions. This competency allows a tech professional to be viewed as a leader within a business area.

The five competencies detailed above and personified by a diverse team of leaders should be integrated and coordinated. When successful, this approach could create an engine for value—with the possibility of creating multiple career pathways for talented leaders as well as a long-term legacy.

Since our 2020 study, Technology has continued to reinvent how business operate. Technology leadership is no longer a solo or siloed activity, but a team sport that requires collaboration, communication, coordination, and cocreation across the enterprise. They are expected to not only enable business strategy, but also cocreate it with their peers and stakeholders.

The great tech leaders of today—and tomorrow—can imagine how to assemble these skills within the matrix of the five core competencies that will determine the success of the enterprise. In short, these true tech leaders can prove themselves worthy not only of leading an outstanding team, but an outstanding organization. We believe today’s best tech leaders have what it takes to become outstanding CEOs and corporate directors.

Explore our full findings around the five competencies of transformational technology leadership here.