What makes an ‘Outstanding Technology Leader’?

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I know a lot of educational leaders, some that I would consider outstanding, and others that lack many of the qualities I believe they need to be great leaders. I believe that any educational leader that wants to be a technology leader, needs to also be a great instructional leader.  You see, they have to be an instructional leader first in order to lead a school in the best technology use and integration.  Here are what I see as qualities of an Outstanding Technology Leader:

  • Understands the components of good instruction, and can identify engaged students who are learning (using technology or not). These leaders don’t see technology as a panacea. Good quality instructional objectives come first, then the technology.
  • Knows who to trust with the ‘nuts and bolts’ tech end of the technology. This is really important. A good technology leader needs to trust their technicians and those who manage them. They need to know enough about technology to know who to trust with this job.  They also need to identify those who have integrity, have the best interests of the district in mind, and are honest and up front.
  • Are open-minded to new ideas and new applications of emerging technology.  Great technology leaders don’t need to know it all, but they do need to be open-minded to other leaders, educators, and staff who have ideas and want to move the district forward.  Sometimes this involves taking chances and being the first to try something new.
  • Trust others. (This goes along with what I said above)   If you are a leader who doesn’t trust others and needs to micro-manage every decision and operation you can’t be an effective leader. Trust is key to any successful endeavor.
  • Have a great network (PLN) of other leaders who can keep them up to date and informed of ways others are using technology in innovative ways.
  • Get out of the office often and see what staff and students are doing with technology. They need to see projects all the way through, from first proposal, purchasing, deployment of equipment, professional development, implementation of technology, identifying learning, and talking with students about outcomes of technology use embedded in lessons. This does not involve micro-managing projects but simply staying in touch with projects, and getting out of the office to keep in touch with staff/students who are using technology to engage, motivate, and increase learning.
  • Model the use of technology. If you can’t use technology effectively in front of your staff you really need to learn it. Staff and students need to see that you can successfully use technology to be more efficient, engage audiences, and be connected to the digital and global world we live in.
  • Be willing to admit when you don’t know something, but also willing to put the effort into learning new technologies. No one can know everything there is to know about technology.  Those who think it, or portray themselves as ‘knowing it all’  simply don’t.  I would be very cautious of those who act like complete experts and never admit they need to look into something.
  • Lastly, but not the least important: value those around  you who work hard at keeping the technology working, keeping the ‘technology dialog’ flowing in your district, and keeping innovative ideas sprouting up through all levels of your organization.

An old African proverb said “It takes a village to raise a child”, I say “It takes an army of staff to support educational technology”.  An outstanding technology leader acknowledges, values, and cultivates this support everyday because they know that without the techs, network specialists, trouble-shooters, questioners, thinkers, and innovators successful technology integration within an educational institution would be non-existent.

I challenge all administrators and educational leaders to think about the above qualities and strive to be that outstanding technology leader.  The results will be well worth the effort.

Do you have any qualities that I omitted?  Please join the discussion below and add them here…

7 thoughts on “What makes an ‘Outstanding Technology Leader’?

  1. Your first quality is one that I think is important for an IT leader, but also for th instructional leaders that are looking to that technology leader for the tools. So many principals get lost in the fact that teachers are using technology in cool ways, but not realize that it isn’t really helping the instruction. Technology is a tool that allows teachers to do amazing things, but not if there isn’t good instruction behind it!

    1. @chad – yes I totally agree all instructional leaders need to start with the good instruction and support/encourage technology use that expands and enhances that instruction. We always need to come back to what supports the learning.
      thanks for your comment!

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