To be an excellent IT leader, you don’t have to be good at IT. IT leadership has more in common with other executive roles within an organization, in that IT team leads, managers and directors are tasked with ensuring the engagement and efficacy of the people in their department rather than contributing directly to the projects assigned to their teams.
If you are new to the field of information technology leadership, you might be eager to learn tips and tricks for helping your department shine — and the truth is that you should behave as you would in almost any other management role. To prove it, here are the most impactful dos and don’ts for IT leaders:
Table of Contents
- Great Tech Leaders Do…
- The Best Tech Leaders Do Not…
Great Tech Leaders Do…
Understand Effective Delegation
Many managers and executives work their way into positions of leadership after years spent in entry level positions where their responsibilities involved directly contributing to the completion of tasks and projects, and the habit of completing work in this way can be difficult to break.
However, it is essential that you learn how to delegate tasks to the members of your IT team — and give them autonomy to complete those tasks to your desired outcome without you hovering over their shoulders.
Encourage Creativity in Problem Solving
Though IT seems like a field in which hard skills and logic reign supreme, the truth is that creativity is an incredibly valuable skill within IT teams. As a leader, you should encourage your team members to use creativity whenever possible, as creative thinking can help your team devise superior solutions to those that are obvious and commonplace.
Assume Accountability for the Team
Too many executives and managers are all too happy to take ownership of their team’s successes but pass off failures onto weak members of their teams. If your team has underperformed in some way, you need to take accountability for their actions; after all, it is fundamentally your inability to provide appropriate support that has resulted in their poor performance.
Assuming accountability for your team means providing for their needs — physical, mental and emotional — and taking the blame for their behavior when appropriate.
Maintain Transparent Communication
Communication is the most important skill for any leader. Information is critical to the proper functioning of IT, so you need to be able to communicate effectively with your team members to facilitate progress.
You might experiment with different models of information flow, but you should always prioritize transparency, which builds engagement and loyalty from your workers.
Continue to Learn and Improve
The field of technology continues to shift as advanced technologies develop at a break-neck pace. Whether or not you come from a tech background, as a tech leader you should have some understanding of the processes associated with IT.
Fortunately, there are plenty of high-quality information technology courses available online for you to continue gaining hard and soft skills throughout your role as an IT leader.
The Best Tech Leaders Do Not…
Make Every Technical Decision
IT leaders who are experts in their field might feel the urge to micromanage technical decisions, but doing so is a mistake. Leaders need to trust their staff to make the right technical choices, so everyone can focus on their responsibilities.
Create an Unnecessary Hierarchy
While it might help you stay organized to rely on a workplace hierarchy — especially if you lead a massive IT department — the truth is that strict, top-down hierarchies tend to stifle creativity by making workers feel powerless in their positions.
IT leaders should always make themselves available to the staff members who need them, and workers should be granted the freedoms they need to accomplish their goals.
Hoard and Hide Information
Often, an unintended side effect of protecting business strategy and IP is preventing important information from reaching the organization’s workforce. Great leaders understand what information their teams need to reach their goals, and they do not hinder access to that information in any way.
Accept All Praise for Themselves
Because leaders are responsible for guiding their teams to success, some leaders assume that they deserve all the praise related to their staff’s performance. However, praise has a much greater impact on staff, so it is imperative to pass along received recognition to the team members who earned it.
Treat Team Members With Disrespect
There is no room for rudeness in the workplace. Even when upset, leaders should behave professionally toward their staff, modeling appropriate behavior.
Over the past few decades, IT has shifted from a minor service-oriented department to a field essential to business operations — and thus, the role of IT leaders has become more important than ever. To become an effective IT leader, you should have the knowledge and skills of both IT and management; to become a great IT leader, you should provide unending support to your staff.