What Makes EdTech Leaders Great?

Looking for edtech leadership? Look no further than these words of wisdom  

CLASSROOM 21 | by Greg Limperis

African roadEducation technology leaders these days are in high demand. If you are looking for great edtech leaders, it helps to know what qualities to look for before deciding to settle on any one specific candidate. According to a Harvard Business Review article in 2004, a great leader needs more than intelligence, determination, toughness and vision—they also need a high degree of emotional intelligence, that is to say, the must also possess self-awareness, self-regulation, motivation, empathy and social skill.

These days, great edtech leaders need to put many of those Emotional Intelligence (EI) skills to work as they should possess a digital presence as well. Great edtech leaders stay current in their field and have a view towards the future knowing what is coming next in educational technology so to prepare students for the world they are growing up in.

Currently, educators need to prepare students today for jobs that do not even exist yet and doing so requires appropriate tools. Knowing which tools are best to use and how to use them is the responsibility of all educators but educators need to get their guidance from their edtech leaders. A great edtech leader, therefore, needs to be part of a Professional Learning Network (PLN) in order to stay current. Great edtech leaders need social skills in order to do this well. Being part of a PLN requires many of the EIs mentioned above.

I can attest from maintaining my own PLN while working full time that it is hard work and it requires self-awareness. What I say as an edtech leader online impacts what others think and do in their own profession, so being aware of moods, emotions and drives — and their effects on others — is essential in leading both my own teachers and others globally.

To do this well, one has to have self-confidence in what they suggest and recommend to others as being in the best interest of all students. With so much technology to choose from and a limited budget often to lead with, great edtech leaders often need to remember to lead with a self-deprecating sense of humor. We have to remember that we are not going to change education overnight because of technology use — nor should we.

Great edtech leaders need to possess trustworthiness, integrity and reliability. Educators need to rely on the fact that you will be there for them. Not every educator has the same comfort level with technology as you possess, so remember to always make yourself available to him or her. A great edtech leader ensures that other educators know that they are there for them and that they will lead next to them versus ahead of them. With so much that changes with educational technology daily, great leaders need to be comfortable with ambiguity. Things may not always be clear as to where edtech is going, but knowing where the technology can get us is essential. This may seem ambiguous that one needs to lead but not know where we are going when it comes to edtech, but today it is essential that we stay open to change because in edtech, things will change.

Great edtech leaders need to possess motivation to press on even when it seems impossible to do so. With shrinking budgets, limited time and the current state of education, great edtech leaders continue to lead in ways they know best and to get our educators the tools they need. Looking at one PLN may help one find that there are cheaper alternatives, cost-saving measures and self-motivating ways to achieve the same goals.

One of the most important qualities of a great edtech leader is empathy. Remember that great leaders know the deficiencies of those they lead and help them to get the skills that will make them better. Realize that most educators need the assistance you can provide but often are either too busy — or too embarrassed — to ask for it. We as educators are often thought to know the answers to everything and admitting that we do not have them can be difficult. Showing others that you are human just like them and that reaching the goal is a common endeavor and not a trip they need to travel alone will help to win over the trust and support that great leaders need. Doing so will help leaders to support, enhance and retain great talent. Remember always who your customers and clients are, and in doing so you will have belief that what you are doing is in the best interest of all involved.

Lastly, great edtech leaders need to be proficient in managing relationships both within their school system and globally as part of their PLN. These days, educators need to rely on each other to make their jobs less cumbersome. Remember, the wheel has already been invented and we do not need to reinvent it. Someone else has probably already done what we are attempting to do and maybe has done it even better.

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BE S.O.C.I.A.L.  Chief Marketing Officer @ValaAfshar of Enterasys describes being a social leader as being S.O.C.I.A.L.: Sincere, Open, Collaborative, Interested, Authentic and Likable. Great edtech leaders are also S.O.C.I.A.L. leaders. They use their emotional intelligence to make sure that they are leading together and not alone. As an African proverb says, “If you want to go quickly, go alone; if you want to go far, go together.”

Greg Limperis is Supervisor of Instructional Technology for his district in Lawrence, Mass.  He is the founder of the very popular Technology Integration in Education professional learning network, reaching thousands of educators worldwide. Greg has shared with others what he knows and they have joined him in sharing their insights as well. Join them in bringing about change using your 21st century skills.

  • Sven Dunke


    Your comment, “Education technology leaders are in great demand today,” is laughable. I have an MS in computer science, an MS in special education, 20 years of experience in consumer electronics, 2 years of experience in the classroom, nothing but excellent reviews and recommendations, and in a 5+ month job search I haven’t had a single interview, let alone an offer, in education technology.

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