What makes for a great IT leader? On the one hand, a resume long on experience can give the impression that an individual has the expertise necessary to lead an IT team. On the other hand, there are a number of skills and abilities that have nothing to do with IT work experience that factor in. While years of experience solving technology problems is a great foundation for any IT leader, it is far from the only requirement necessary. In fact, an argument can be made that hands-on experience working with software, infrastructure, and networks is the least important part of an IT leader’s growth.
An IT leader is responsible for a great many things, but three key responsibilities stand out. First and foremost, an IT leader must be able to think strategically and translate that thinking into action. This means envisioning how technology can help the company meet its goals and then putting in place systems and processes to make that happen. Second, an IT leader must be able to communicate effectively with both technical and non-technical members of the team. This includes being able to articulate complex technical concepts in a way that everyone can understand, as well as manage expectations by communicating timelines and potential roadblocks. Finally, an IT leader must be able to manage people and resources effectively. This includes setting expectations, providing adequate training, and ensuring that everyone on the team is working towards the same goal.
The Five Traits that Make for a Great IT Leader
Finding an individual capable of fulfilling these responsibilities is no small task. Whether looking to promote internally or find an outside candidate, you should consider the traits that great IT leaders have in common. Similarly, if you are an IT professional looking to take the next step in your career, you should think about how to develop these traits in yourself.
1. Willingness to Think Outside the Box
The best IT leaders think outside the box. They are able to come up with creative solutions to problems and challenges that their team is facing. Additionally, they think about future trends and how they can position their team to stay ahead of the curve.
The value of thinking outside the box in IT cannot be overstated. As the world becomes increasingly more digital, the need for innovative solutions to technology problems becomes more important. IT leaders who are able to think creatively and come up with new ways to solve old problems are invaluable to their teams and their companies.
Innovation is key in any industry, but it is especially important in IT. Rapid changes in technology mean that the status quo is constantly changing, and those who are able to keep up with the latest trends and developments have a significant advantage. Thinking outside the box is one way to ensure that you are always on top of the latest trends and developments.
Additionally, thinking outside the box can help an IT leader find new ways to use existing technology to solve problems. This can be especially helpful when your team is facing a roadblock or when you are trying to meet a tight deadline. There is no shortage of challenges in IT, and those who are able to think creatively and find new solutions are sure to be successful.
2. Excellent Communication Skills
IT leaders have great communication skills. They are able to clearly articulate their vision and goals to their team. They also listen to their team’s concerns and feedback and take it all into consideration when making decisions.
The ability to communicate effectively is one of the most important traits of a great IT leader. As an IT leader, you are responsible for overseeing a team of people who are working towards a common goal. In order to ensure that everyone is on the same page and understands what is expected of them, it is essential that you be able to communicate effectively.
In order to stay ahead of the curve, it is important to be able to communicate effectively with your team. This includes being able to articulate complex technical concepts in a way that everyone can understand, as well as manage expectations by communicating timelines and potential roadblocks. Additionally, good communication skills can help you build trust with your team. When team members trust their leader, they are more likely to be willing to put in the extra effort needed to achieve success.
3. Ability to Think Tactically and Strategically
Tactical thinking is essential for those who are responsible for day-to-day operations. Tactical thinkers focus on the here and now and how they can solve current problems using existing resources. They are practical and realistic and tend not to get bogged down in details or lose sight of the goal.
Strategic thinkers, on the other hand, focus on the big picture. They are able to see beyond current limitations and envision how technology can help their team meet its goals. They think about future trends and how they can position their team to stay ahead of the curve.
It is important for IT leaders to be able to think both tactically and strategically. Tactical thinking allows them to stay focused on day-to-day operations while strategic thinking allows them to plan for the future and envision how technology can help their team meet its goals.
4. People and Resource Management
Awesome IT leaders are able to manage people and resources effectively. They understand how to motivate their team and how to get the most out of them. They also know when to delegate tasks and when to take on tasks themselves.
Additionally, effective resource management is essential for IT leaders. They need to be able to allocate resources effectively and make sure that their team has the tools and resources they need to be successful.
5. Commitment to continuous learning
The best IT leaders never stop trying to learn new things and grow as a professional. Additionally, they encourage their team members to do the same. By continuously learning, IT leaders can keep their team on the cutting edge of the latest developments in the industry.
IT leaders committed to continuous learning attend conferences, participate in different forums and work groups, and stay in touch with colleagues and peers. These relationships and interactions expose the leader to new ideas, technology, and trends that can impact their own work and organizations. By hungering for more knowledge and new ideas, the best IT leaders are able to be proactive and think about the future instead of being reactive and stuck in the past.
Clearly Identify Great IT Leadership
Do the five traits above ensure great IT leadership? Of course not. There is no failsafe method for such a task. But these critical qualities are commonly found among the best personnel in the IT profession. It is doubtful that an IT leader who, for example, struggles to communicate and does not have a firm grasp on modern technology would emerge as an excellent CIO, CTO, or IT Director.
When considering the makeup of your IT team, look for these traits not just in your leadership team but also in other employees. Individual contributors today can – and should – grow to be managers, directors, and tomorrow’s CIOs. With that in mind, it’s important to identify these qualities early on and provide opportunities for those with the most promise to develop their skills. After all, your company’s success depends on it.
To learn more about how great IT leaders think and the information that helps them stay at the top of their field, follow Silver Tree Consulting and Services on LinkedIn.