Do non-tech tech leaders exist?
Yes, they do exist.
I have had the privilege of working for one the best leaders of a tech firm — and she wasn’t technical. I know there are many people who feel that to lead a technical team you need to be technical. I disagree.
Based on my experiences, I’ve seen very strong leaders who are leading technical teams that don’t come from a technical background. They recognize their technical knowledge gap and compensate for that in multiple ways.
They trust their technical leaders
To be effective, you must trust your team to be honest. By creating an empowered team and a culture that expects the best of people, a leader can question the speed of delivery but must accept the word of her team.
They lead by example
The best way to get others to deliver to their fullest potential and take ownership of their work is to do so yourself. In a leadership you role, you need to demonstrate your ability to pull teams together, to clearly articulate goals and to roll up your sleeves and dig in, even if you don’t know how to engineer the end product.
They get out of the way
Strong leaders ensure that their teams have what they need to get the job done. They understand the big picture and can clear roadblocks. Once the tools are in place and hurdles are removed, they get out of the way and allow the team to build great products.
They have the capacity to learn
Even without a technical education, strong leaders in this space are able to absorb a certain amount of technical prowess over time. Lacking the ability to code does not diminish the diverse and complementary skills a leader brings to the table. Strong leaders will monitor the pulse of technology — the latest code languages, platforms, etc. — and be able to weave this into their strategy for developing profitable products that drive business forward.