In Order To Become A Better Manager, You Need To Learn How To Act Like A Girl

by drjim on January 8, 2015

Apparently girls know how to manage IT teams better than you do!

Apparently girls know how to manage IT teams better than you do!
Image Credit: Doug Wheller

I think that we can all agree that there are certain IT manager skills and traits that the really good managers have. As IT managers, we’d like to discover what these traits are (is there any IT manager training for this?) and then find ways to incorporate them into our own management style. It turns out that some really smart people have been studying the people who do a good job of managing teams and what they’ve discovered is that we all need to become just a bit more feminine.

What Are Managers Trying To Accomplish?

Ok, I’m going to be the first one to confess that my “image” of an effective manager was probably shaped by the movies and TV shows that I saw when I was growing up. The managers who were able to get things done were real men: they yelled, they pounded their fists on tables, and they basically intimidated everyone into doing what they needed to have done when they needed to have it done.

Well, guess what? As with so many other things in life, what I saw on the big screen does not really translate into real life very well. Yes, it is possible to be the type of IT manager who does all of those manly things that we think that effective managers do, but what we’ll quickly discover is that nobody wants to work on our team and those who have to are not very productive.

So what’s the solution? Well, depending on how manly you are you’re not going to like this very much. It turns out that the most effective managers are the ones who demonstrate traits that are traditionally considered to feminine characteristics. Sorry about this – sensitivity is in, pounding on tables is out.

What Qualities Should An IT Manager Have?

So should we all start wearing pastels to work and watching “Desperate Housewives” (is that even on TV anymore?) The answer is a very clear no. Instead, we need to identify just exactly what characteristics are going to make us a better IT manager, do away with the gender classifications, and then work them into our everyday interactions with our teams.

The big question is what traits do we need to have? It turns out that there are 7 different personality characteristics that we all need to work at. Here they are:

  • Empathy: This can be a tough one to do well. What it requires you to do is to be sensitive to the thoughts and feelings of the members of your team. This means that you need to think about what they are thinking about.
  • Vulnerability: In my book, this is the hardest trait of all. As an IT manager you need to acknowledge that you have limitations – you can’t do it all. When you encounter a situation where you need help, you have to be willing to ask for it.
  • Humility: It turns out that it’s not all about you. What you need to learn how to do is to find ways to serve the members of your team. When something is a success, you need to be able to share the credit with everyone who contributed.
  • Inclusiveness: In our fast-paced world, we like to get everything done quickly. However, in order to work better with our team, we need to learn the skills of asking for other people’s options and then listening to what they have to say. This is a key part of any IT team building efforts that you conduct.
  • Generosity: They say that it’s better to give than to receive. This means that you need to learn how to give of your advice, support, time and contacts.
  • Balance: You have a life and you have a job. You need to make sure that you feed both of these beasts properly.
  • Patience: Not everything that is important is due tomorrow. Instead, you need to teach yourself to take the long-term view of how the things that you are working on today will impact the team over the long haul.

What Does All Of This Mean For You?

Becoming a better manager is something that all of us should trying to accomplish all of the time. The difficult part of this is that it’s not exactly clear what we need to be doing in order to become better. The good news is that experts have been studying effective managers and they tell us that what we need to do is to become more like girls.

What they mean by this is that a lot of the personality characteristics that are traditionally associated with women turn out to be traits that leaders need to have. These qualities include: empathy, vulnerability, humility, inclusiveness, generosity, balance, and patience.

We are entering an era where labeling traits as belonging to either men or women is started to become out-of-date. Instead, what really matters is that as IT managers we want to be equipped with the traits that will allow us to manage our teams effectively. It sure looks like we need to spend some time learning how to add some feminine skills to our management playbook.

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

Question For You: What is the best way to determine what management traits you still need to acquire?

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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

IT manager are on the front line of innovation for their companies. There is a very good chance that many of the new or novel ideas that their company dreams up will come out of their team. Because of this, it is critical that IT managers understand how the U.S. patent system works. What makes this even more challenging is that there have recently been a number of changes to the process of applying for a patent.

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