Principles of leadership in the high-tech industry

By Itai Ben Zion – Pliops

My journey in the high-tech industry started in 2001 as a third-year student at a corporate company. After 16 years that spanned three corporate companies, I felt a burning desire to join a startup in its early stages and take part in driving disruptive technology to the market. Fortunately, I found Pliops, the best place I could have imagined, and after almost 5 years, I can say it was a great decision and a very enjoyable ride.

After 15 years of management experience in different positions in corporates and startups, it is obvious to me that being an influential leader in every industry is difficult; however, in the high-tech industry, it might be even more challenging. Due to the high demand and lack of supply in this industry, companies are desperate in their search to find and hire engineering talent. Consequently, when great engineers have alternatives, one needs to offer extra value in order to hire them and keep them engaged, so they will resist job hopping.

Throughout my career as a manager, I have spent a great deal of time thinking about management and leadership. Here I would like to present my top 3 principles of leadership philosophy: the importance of people and team building, on-time delivery at the highest quality, and taking risks and improving.

  1. The people and the team: The employees are a company’s greatest assets, and managing them correctly can really make a difference. It starts with the hiring process:

    • Hiring people is very challenging. A great deal of effort is invested in persuading candidates to choose a certain company over its competitors. But hiring talent is not enough; it is also important to hire the best fit for the position you are seeking to fill, from both a technical and cultural perspective. In other words, not every talent can fit any job. In addition, it is also critical to set expectations before presenting a job offer and to avoid mangling the existing organizational structure merely for the sake of hiring talent. With the above in mind, there are several traits that are always valuable; my top 3 are high intelligence, commitment, and communication skills.

    • During hiring it is important to zoom-out and look at the team that is being formed. I believe it is important to build a team with complementary skills/strengths and to place strong people in every domain. I like to compare it to a football team: we cannot hire only great strikers; great defenders are also required. I always keep in mind that a high-performing team is as good as its weakest link/domain. and continues in day-to-day work.

    • Throughout the hiring process and during the daily work routine, one must invest in creating trust with the employees, along with generating a positive work climate. There are several techniques to create trust such as listening, sharing, providing constant feedback, getting to know the employees and their needs, empowerment, respect, and prioritizing work-life balance. When trust is created, open communication becomes possible, which facilitates discussing problems/issues. Trust also builds employee engagement and makes the employees happier and better motivated, which often leads to greater productivity and better results for the company.

  2. On-time delivery at the highest quality: Due to intense competition, delivering the product on time and at the highest quality are crucial for a company’s success. This helps establish a reputation, earn customer loyalty, and manage the company expenses carefully. Building a complex product from scratch is very challenging. Assuming that one has managed to put together a high-performing team, at the end of the day, the product must be delivered on time and at the highest quality. Several mechanisms are required:

    Goal setting: This should be done with a SMART mindset (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Timely). The process should be conducted in collaboration with the employees and must be aligned with the overall company strategy. When one succeeds in fostering a mindset that inspires everyone to work toward a common goal, the employees understand the impact of their hard work.

    Creating a project plan: Once goals are set and resource mapping is completed, it is very useful to upload the data to a project management tool in order to track and prioritize, predict the schedule, and identify potential bottlenecks. Moreover, setting milestones and clear KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) helps to measure the health of the product.

    • Removing bottlenecks: Sometimes, well-intentioned managers become the bottleneck of the product. This should be avoided; instead, managers should work hard to detect and remove bottlenecks and barriers, such as knowledge gaps and lack of communication between teams.

  3. Take risks and improve: In a swiftly changing world, I think that risk-taking as well as encouraging risk-taking in the organization is necessary. This means that you or your teammates are willing to do things differently, try new things, challenge the status quo, and innovate. When mistakes happen, it is a great opportunity for learning. Embracing the mistake by holding a lesson-learning session is an opportunity to create an open dialogue with the employees, which will eventually strengthen the team’s capabilities and let you, the manager, grow and develop.

    In summary, today I can proudly state that Pliops provided me with a fantastic opportunity to establish a winning team that is composed of talented professionals and to create a cooperative, positive organizational culture that highly values its individual employees and promotes and develops them, while also challenging them, requiring them to study and evolve and meet their targets and above all—to develop groundbreaking technology. As I see it, in this way, the managerial principles in which I believe are manifested in the best manner possible.

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