The association for the people and businesses of Sheffield's digital industries.

talent 23, a year of talent and skills

a year of talent and skills

Meet the meetup: SheffTech Leadership

The meetup for every leader at every level in tech, to get together, share problems, discuss solutions and gain fresh perspectives. We spoke to Michael Jervis, Head of Digital at MattressOnline and SheffTech Leadership organiser to find out more.

SheffTech Leadership brings people together in an informal, relaxed environment to discuss the important issues affecting leaders working in tech today. The next meet up is on July 19th, 6pm-8pm at Curvalux, in the Electric Works, kindly hosted by Cristina Sesma. It will be an opportunity for leaders to reflect on how their behaviours impact those around them and learn from each other’s experiences. See who is already attending here.

The meet ups are open to anyone working, or aspiring to work in a leadership role, they last two hours and are facilitated discussions with a different topic each month. They have been designed to help new and experienced leaders learn from each other, in a supportive, safe environment. By sharing different perspectives, ways of doing things and taking time to develop reflective capabilities, leaders are given an extended peer support network they can draw on, to develop their leadership capabilities.

We asked SheffTech Leadership organiser  Michael Jervis his views on the culture and challenges in tech leadership and the importance of networks.

What are the challenges facing tech leadership today?

In technology, you need leaders who have enough technical knowledge to manage a technical team, which means technical experts are often put into a leadership role without the support to develop the necessary people skills. Essentially companies take their best techies and can turn them into their worst people managers. The impact on a company is massive, leaders often try to compensate by diving into what they can solve technically, rather than leading enabling the team and dealing with issues – you end up with a demotivated team and a poor leadership culture, as well as burnout, stress and anxiety for the leader, who feels like they are failing. We’re in a really difficult space for recruitment, salaries are going up and up in the tech sector and if you don’t have good leadership and management in your company then that’s not going to help you retain and develop staff.

Why is developing leadership skills in tech so important?

Leaders need to be able to work outside their comfort zone, build and maintain human relationships as well as having oversight of how people are interacting within their team – making sure that the team is mixing and interacting well internally. With the pivot to remote working through the pandemic, it’s a whole new leadership skill set for people to learn. There have always been more people working remotely in tech, because of the nature of the work, and now there are polarised views about everyone’s got to go back to the office, or no one will ever go back to the office. The reality is going to be a mix, people work in different ways, so you need to understand how that comes together, how you make sure that your remote individuals are as engaged as your co-located individuals. One way to do this is when there is a part local team and part remote team, get everyone to dial in remotely, that way communication and collaboration works a lot better, because everyone is on the same common denominator for communication and can engage equally.

How does SheffTech Leadership help?

SheffTech Leadership brings together a great mix of individuals, we have both experienced leaders and those early in the journey. Everyone has had a different journey, but there are a lot of common problems. There’s often more than one way to deal with that problem and an experienced leader can benefit from hearing fresh perspectives or discussion to help adjust their approaches and look at continual improvement. Explaining how you’ve tackled something in the past also forces you to break it down and re-understand it and can bring yourself fresh insight on how you can do better in the future too. Because the discussions are facilitated everyone has the opportunity to contribute, or just ask questions and make sure your interest in the topic is covered, but we also welcome those who’d just like to listen. When people come together and share experiences, you find there’s often a lot of common problems, and lots of different solutions to solving them, there’s always something new to take away.

Join the conversation at our next meeting:

Date: July 19th Time: 6pm-8pm Location: Curvalux Electric Works Book: here.