I’m guessing that you wouldn’t go to work naked. Then why-oh-why are you thinking about going to work as an IT Leader when you don’t have all of the skills that you’ll need to do the job correctly?
I’m not sure if this is going to make you feel any better, but it turns out that most IT Leaders are showing up for work only partially dressed when you consider what skills they are missing. Maybe we’d better have a talk about this…
Can You Communicate?
All too often, IT folks assume that good communication skills mean that you have the ability to get up in front of a group of people and deliver a speech without bursting into flames. Yes, this is good skill to have, but IT Leaders need to have more.
Remember, communication is a two-way street and not only does an IT Leader need to be able to tell others what to do, but you are also going to have to be able to listen to what others are telling you.
No, we’re not talking about having the ability to sit there and listen when someone else is talking to just waiting for them to pause so that you can start talking again. Instead, an IT Leader needs to be able to listen, process what has been said, and then ask good, pointed questions that will help get to the bottom of any discussion.
Just to round things out, an IT Leader also needs to have the communication skill that will allow them to “close” a discussion. This is when you ask a final question and then have the strength to keep you mouth closed and allow the other person to provide an answer. This is how you wrap things up cleanly.
Promote, Promote, Promote!
All too often IT Leaders seem to have a “build it and they will come” sort of attitude. They believe that if their team and by extension themselves do a good job then the rest of the company will realize it and their value to the company will increase. Sorry, it doesn’t work that way.
What IT Leaders need to be doing is constantly promoting both themselves and their team. Now you have to be careful here, note that I didn’t say “bragging”. The difference is subtle, but important.
One way that an IT Leader can show the value of both his position as well as his team is to become the thought leader on all things technical. By researching new technologies and then taking the time to educate the rest of the company about what they mean and how they can be used by the business in order to be more successful, both the IT leader and his team will become recognized as a valuable resource.
Make A Friend (or Two)
Within the world of IT, there is often a “loner” attitude that many of us hold: I can do it all by myself. As an IT Leader, you need to stop thinking this way and start making as many contacts as you can.
Your career will only be as strong as your network and that means taking the time to develop real relationships with as many people as possible. Not all IT Leaders have this skill.
What All Of This Means For You
If you really want to be a successful IT Leader, you’ve got some work to do. There are a set of skills that you’ll need to develop in order to be successful over the long run.
To be an IT Leader who has the ability to get things done, you’re going to have to have the ability to be a good two-way communicator. You’ll have to learn to spend your time tirelessly promoting both the your team and your value to the company. Finally, you are going to have to get good at that critical skill: networking.
None of these three skills are impossible to do. However, the key to being a successful IT Leader is to get good at doing all three at the same time…!
– Dr. Jim Anderson
Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World IT Management Skills™
Question For You: Which of these three skills do you think is the most important for an IT Leader to have?
What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time
It turns out that an IT Leader really doesn’t do all that much. I mean, they probably don’t do any coding, they don’t debug network problems, and they don’t design next-generation storage solutions. Sorta makes you wonder just exactly they do do? It turns out that most of an IT Leader’s time is spent doing scary stuff, like managing people…