IT Leadership Courses

Qualities and Attributes of Information Technology Leaders

The pace of technological change in modern life is enough to make anyone’s head spin, and it doesn’t slow with the latest smart phone, iPad or virtual reality device. This acceleration affects managers and leaders in the field too.

Digital media specialist Rich Hein says being an effective IT leader is different than it was 10 years ago. Command-and-control thinking has yielded to employee empowerment and engagement: “Leaders need to understand that no one person can do it all (and) that the people they surround themselves with and how they manage them are the keys to their success.”

What are some key traits of successful IT leaders? These are 10 of the top qualities that surfaced in a recent review of five leading industry publications:

  1. Great communication skills (mentioned most often)
  2. Humble attitude
  3. Authenticity (including self-awareness)
  4. Attention to detail
  5. Learn from experience
  6. Think strategically and creatively
  7. Creative a collaborative, “safe to fail” environment
  8. Analytical; can prioritize tasks
  9. Good problem-solving skills
  10. Good planner

So, what if your IT organization needs leaders with these kinds of attributes? Where will they come from? What nationwide search firm will you have to retain to find the right candidates? What kind of executive development seminars will be necessary?

The answer may well lie within your existing workforce. There is a longstanding myth that it’s not possible to develop essential qualities and character traits in leaders—the kind that can drive your IT company further into the 21st century. Supposedly, you can only hire leaders who possess these skills; they can’t learn them.

However, that isn’t true. It is now possible to develop important qualities and attributes in your existing management team at a fraction of the costs of traditional leadership development or expensive executive searches. You can develop this side of a person.

For instance, you can develop character traits like commitment to understanding others, communicating well with the workforce—including tackling difficult conversations—and grasping the organization and discipline necessary for multi-tasking. And it can all be measured. Here’s how the classic roundtable version works.

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