If the CEO of your company asked one or more of your team members the following questions, what grades would their answers likely receive?\n\n1. What business are we in?\n2. Who are our customers?\n3. What differentiates us from our competition?\n4. What\u2019s our mission statement and core values?\n\nThose questions are among the first questions I ask before I begin a new search or a coaching engagement. \u00a0The expression on the faces of the people in front of me while they\u2019re considering their answers can be extremely telling, running the gamut from uncomfortable silences to excessive throat clearings.\n\n\nMy purpose in asking these questions isn\u2019t to embarrass anyone or put someone on the spot in front of his boss. It\u2019s to get everyone very focused and clear that the most brilliantly conceived technology initiatives can and will fail in the execution phase when the technology team receives failing grades to those questions.\n\nTechnology leaders are business leaders\n\nTechnology leaders are increasingly expected to account for top line results, (a recent survey of CEO\u2019s reported that 63% of them expect their CIO\u2019s to focus on projects that drive revenue). The historic fight to earn a \u2018seat at the table\u2019 will amount to little if the strategic insights and information that are gained in the C Suite or in Board meetings don\u2019t find their way to every member of the technology organization.\n\n\nEvery level of your leadership team \u2013 whether you\u2019re running a 50, 500 or 5,000 person organization \u2013 should be expected to answer those questions. If there\u2019s a knowledge gap at one or more levels, if there\u2019s a team or individuals within a team who think they only need to know their specific IT functions then you aren\u2019t doing your job as a leader.\n\n\nFor the past number of years it\u2019s become commonplace for technology executives to claim that they\u2019re not technologists so much as business people who happen to know technology. I\u2019d like to know how many of their employees are encouraged to think and feel the same way. Because if and when that day ever arrives then that claim will amount to more than a well rehearsed line to deliver during an executive interview.\n\nLeaders create a mindset for their organizations\n\nHow can you, as a typically overworked leader, create a business savvy technology team whose members know what business they\u2019re in, who their customers are and what differentiates their company from its competitors? The kind of team that anticipates problems instead of always reacting to them, that pushes you in ways that advance your strategic thinking and that fuels your career growth with a well stocked succession planning pipeline?\n\n\nBy developing a new mindset for your technology organization; a mindset that empowers all of your employees to view themselves as leaders. Given my twin business passions of executive search and coaching, the subject of leadership frequently pops up in many of my conversations. Over the years I\u2019ve noticed that far too many people are under the mistaken assumption that a leader is someone who has other people reporting to them. It\u2019s a narrow view of leadership. All sorts of people can be leaders if they have the right mindset. \u00a0As in: A leader is anyone who solves problems and maximizes resources by effectively influencing people.\n\n2 predictions\n\nHere\u2019s my prediction: When every member of your organization views him or herself as a leader and accepts the above definition, then you are going to spend less time in skip level meetings and negotiating intra and inter departmental conflicts because more of your employees will understand that their jobs as leaders means that it\u2019s equally if not more important to them to understand what\u2019s going on inside the people in their world as it is to understand what\u2019s going on inside of applications or infrastructure.\n\n\nHere\u2019s another prediction: When your entire team sees itself as a leadership team then they\u2019ll be more likely to take an interest in the wider company. Encouraging an awareness of the company\u2019s products or services and the people who are buying those products or services and why they\u2019re buying those products or services will create a team that\u2019s more motivated to produce excellent products, services and solutions.\n\nLeadership is a privilege\n\nOne of my clients is a devout believer in the idea that \u2018Leadership is a privilege\u2019. I also believe that leadership is a privilege and \u2018privilege\u2019 (according to Merriam-Webster) is \u2018a special opportunity to do something that makes you proud\u2019. If every company is becoming some form of a technology company and the people who are responsible for that \u2018becoming\u2019 are in the IT organization then everyone in your organization has the right and responsibility to see themselves as leaders and to feel extremely proud of their contribution.\n\n\nAre your employees more or less likely to ace the Four Critical Questions test with a \u2018leadership mindset\u2019 than with whatever mindset they happen to show up for work with on any given day? The people in an organization who really believe in their wealth of knowledge and power (i.e., influence) are more likely to enjoy knowing about their company, its business, its value proposition and, most importantly, its customers. They\u2019ll enjoy knowing these facts and ideas because they\u2019ll know it\u2019s in their best interest as L - E - A - D - E - R - S.