Being A Successful IT Manager Is All About Being A Good Storyteller

by drjim on September 24, 2015

A good IT manager can tell a good story

A good IT manager can tell a good story
Image Credit: UNIONDOCS

Of all of the IT manager skills that we have, which one is the most important? When we are in an IT manager training class, it can seem as though budgeting, performance reviews, or goal setting are the most important skills. However, it turns out that they are not. Instead, the ability to tell a good story is what distinguishes the so-so IT managers from the really good ones.

The Moment Of Realization

If you are like me, then there have been times that you’ve failed. No matter if you were talking with your team, with another department, or even with your boss, you failed to accomplish what you were trying to do. You may have been trying to convince them of something or to get them to take a specific action, but you just were not able to do it. Contrast this to the times that you’ve succeeded and what you’re going to find is that more often than not, what made things work was when you told a purposeful story to your audience.

When you are using a story to accomplish a goal, you need to make sure that your story has a point. The reason that you use a story is to get your audience to do something. The stories that we tell can create social cohesion within our audience and if we do a good job of telling them, then we can get the members of our team to start to strategize together.

One of the most important things that we need to keep in mind is that the best stories are interactive. What you don’t want to do is to just talk at your audience – you’ll quickly lose their attention if you do this. Instead, you need to engage them. You can do this by changing your story based on the feedback that they are giving you as you share it with them. If you can accomplish this, then your audience will remember your story and will share it with others.

How To Tell A Good Story

Not all of us are born storytellers. It turns out that it’s actually pretty easy to do. It all starts with making sure that you know what the intention of telling this story is. What do you want from your audience? You are going to have to share this with your audience and be transparent about what your story goals are.

Telling a good story is all about capturing your audience’s attention. In order to make this happen, you are going to have to decide if you want to accomplish it by including your audience in your speech or by using specific physical actions to hold their attention. In the end, your story has to provide your audience with value. Your story is going to have to have a goal and that goal is going to have to be to provide your audience with a payoff.

If you don’t feel comfortable telling stories to your team, don’t worry. In all honesty, most of us have not practiced the art of telling stories since we were 8 years old. However, stories have not lost their power to communicate thoughts and ideas. It’s time for us to once again get good at telling stories in order to become better IT managers!

What All Of This Means For You

We’d all like to become better IT managers. The challenge that we face is that we’re never quite sure what set of skills we need to be working on in order to make this happen. It turns out that the one skill that we need the most is one that we all already have: storytelling.

As IT managers, we want to be able to use stories to convey a specific purpose to our team. By sharing our stories with our team we are hoping to get our team to start to strategize together. When we tell a story, we need to make sure that we don’t just talk at our audience. Instead, we need to make our stories interactive. Whenever we share a story with our team, we always have to make sure that in the end our team wins.

Storytelling is one of the oldest forms of communication that there is. As IT managers, no matter if we’re conducting a staff meeting or IT team building, having the ability to do a good job of telling stories can serve us well. Practice your storytelling skills and watch your team start to respond to you.

– Dr. Jim Anderson
Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World IT Management Skills™

Question For You: How long do you think that the stories that an IT manager tells should be?

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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

Being an IT manager is a tough job. There seem to be a ton of technical details that we always need to be staying on top of: languages, servers, security issues, networking, mobile devices, etc. As we try to master the IT manager skills that are required by an ever changing technical landscape, it can be all too easy to forget what it’s going to take in order to make our team truly effective: the ability to work well with others.This kind of stuff is not covered in any of our IT manager training.

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