Master Digital Literacy: Dos and Don'ts

By Freelance Contributor | Strong Female Leaders | Reading Time: Five Minutes

The myth about digital literacy for technical leadership is that you need to know how to code and have a strong technical background. Not entirely true. But you do need to know how to use technology to your advantage. In business, that means to use technology to achieve business goals. So what are some of the things that you should, and should not do, to master digital literacy? Scroll down to find out.

The Dos and Don'ts of Mastering Digital Literacy for Technical Leadership
Do: Learn to Speak Like a Technologist
To collaborate with and lead technologists, it helps to speak like them. You don't have to code, scrum, test software or analyze data, but you do need to understand certain keywords and jargons.
An actionable step is to engage more with the technical teams. Learn how they speak, think and solve problems. If you weren't born a natural technologist, that's okay. Surrounding yourself with technologists will improve your technical proficiency.
Don't: Learn How to Code
As highly sought-after of a skill as coding is, it is not for everyone. You might be tempted to register for an online class or join a bootcamp, but merely learning how to code will not make you a coder. To become prolific at programming, you need practice, as in writing tens and thousands of lines of code. Unless you love doing it, coding isn't for you.
Instead, your time will be better-spent on learning how to leverage the technology that you have to maximize business value, improve user experience and manage technical teams.
Do: Humble Down
When it comes to technology and software, no one can claim to be an expert. There is always a new version, app or tool being released. To keep yourself in the know, humble down and admit what you don't know. But be confident that you are a fast learner and can pick things up quickly.
Don't: Pretent That You Know It All
One of the worst things to do, with both technical and nontechnical teams, is to pretend that you know everything. You don't and you can't, and you are better off being open-minded about learning.
Do: Understand the Holistic View
A skilled technologist gets down to the details but you don't have to. You do, however, need to understand the holistic point of view of how the apps, systems, front and backend components interact with eachother and the business teams. If it seems confusing and overwhelming, then pick one businss process to focus on, and your mind will clear in no time. Follow the data flow and see if it moves smoothly from creation to depracation, or if it gets stuck in a bottle neck. Document the process and entry and exit points along the way, in order to grasp how the systems support eachother.
Don't: Get Hung Up on the Little Things
As specific as engineering problems get, your job is to get things and people to work together and not to fix every little issue. Technologists get paid a lot of money to do what they love doing. Let them handle the specifics. Your job is to make sure that they have what they need in order to work efficiently and effectively.
Do: Focus on Failing Forward
There is no perfect human being and there is no perfect technology. Code will have bugs, machines will break and teams will make mistakes. The best leaders know that failing is inevitable, especially in the technical arena. What's more important is to fail forward and fail fast. So instead of dwelling on mistakes and pointing fingers, it is your duty to ensure that teams learn from past mistakes and continue to improve.
Don't: Give Up
In a fast-paced technical domain, you will often be under pressure. And if you lead technical teams, you will also have to absorb the pressure from business and executive stakeholders, as well as from clients. You will often feel like you're stuck in the middle and because you don't have a background in technology, you will often feel under-qualified. At times, you might even want to give up. Remember that no one is perfect and that technology is one of the most difficult fields. If you must find a different position, then leave on a high. In other words: leave the place better than when you started. Meanwhile, keep up the good work until you have made a positive impact.
Parting Thoughts
In a world that is almost fully digitally transformed, knowing how to effectively use technology is crucial to business success. However, to lead technical teams, you do not need deep technical knowledge and years of experience. Some extra training and engagement will serve you well and help you master digital literacy. Focus on learning concepts instead of skills, and how technologists work instead of what you lack as a technical leader. Finally, quit confusing mastering digital literacy with being an engineer.