IT Managers Overestimate How Good Of A Manager They Are

How Do You Think That You Measure Up As A Boss…?
How Do You Think That You Measure Up As A Boss…?

With a little luck, every IT manager realizes that they are only as good as the people that they have working for them. What this means is that they need to be a good boss if they want to be successful. This leads to a critical question: how good of a boss are you? It turns out that most of us seem to think that we’re a better boss than we probably really are…

The Survey

The good folks over at the consulting firm Development Dimensions International, Inc. have just completed a study of 1,100 front-line managers. The results are not what you’d hope for.

What would you hope for? Well, you’d like this collection of mangers to realized that they don’t know it all. You’d want to hear some self-doubt and you’d especially like to hear that they realize that they’ve got a ways to go in order to become truly effective managers. That’s not what DDI found.

Instead, what their survey showed was that most managers tend to over-estimate their management skills. On top of this, they seem to have very little self-doubt. Hey, I’m all for self confidence, but it sure looks like the IT manager pool is just a little bit too confidant.

Two of the questions that DDI asked in their survey really drove this too much self-confidence issue home. One question asked if during their first year the mangers ever regretted being promoted – a very natural feeling. A whopping 74% said no. The next question asked if during the first year the new manager ever questioned their ability to lead others. Once again, 72% said no. Ouch! We seem to be just a little bit too full of ourselves here.

What Makes Someone A Good IT Manager?

It’s the rest of DDI’s survey that really provides the interesting information for IT managers. DDI has broken the job of being an IT manager down into 10 different skill sets. As you take a look at this list, you’ll be able to see how each one of them is a critical IT manager skill:


  • Setting work standards



  • Planning and organizing



  • Decision making



  • Communicaiton



  • Technical and professional skills



  • Initiating action



  • Adaptability



  • Coaching



  • Gaining commitment



  • Delegating


The survey showed that IT managers believe that they do a good job of setting work standards along with planning and organizing. Although they think that they do a good job here, it doesn’t always show. It would have been interesting if the survey had included feedback from the staff that is being managed!

Somewhat not surprising, the areas that IT managers feel that they need to work on the most include many of the soft skill areas. These include such management tasks as delegating and getting commitment from their teams. IT managers have their technical skills down, it’s the people skills that still need the most work.

What All Of This Means For You

What the results of this survey show us is that most of us have an over inflated view of our ability to manage an IT team. It appears as though this belief is with us when we first become an IT manager and it doesn’t seem to leave as we advance in our career.

It turns out that there are 10 different skill sets that we need to have as an IT manager if we want to do a good job of leading our department. We believe that we do the best job of setting work standards and we need the most assistance in the area of delegating.

This information is critical for us as IT managers to study and understand. None of us are perfect; however, by understanding where we are weakest we can focus our efforts to become better.

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

Question For You: What do you think you should do during your first year to become a better manager?

Click here to get automatic updates when The Accidental IT Leader Blog is updated.

What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

If ever there was a trendy word in the world of IT management, it would have to be the word “team”. If you read enough books or listen to enough gurus, you’d have to be forgiven for coming away with the impression that the solution to just about every IT problem is to throw a team at it. Sure teams can be useful, but IT managers need to know when they work – and when they don’t.

Leave a Comment