Good IT leaders are highly sought after both by tech companies and within organizations that have IT departments. While traditional leadership skills apply to IT leaders as with others, there are a few essential skills that will set the great IT leaders apart:
In IT leadership, emotional intelligence is as valuable a skill as intellect combining an awareness of self with an awareness of others. Great leaders understand their emotions and thought processes; they respond to the reactions/feelings/thoughts of others and in doing so, foster stronger interpersonal relationships. An environment that has these stronger relationships and a higher level of communication creates a culture that encourages engagement and addressing the needs of others that might otherwise go unspoken. Thus, emotional intelligence becomes the key to motivating and influencing others to produce tangible outcomes. While rarely addressed in IT education and training, it is the single most important factor determining the success of leaders.
Taking Communication Skills to a Team Level.
Experienced leaders understand the importance of communication, team building and conflict management, however IT leaders require taking those skills to a higher level to foster the type of critical thinking essential for the development of IT teams.
Consider the example of innovation. Rarely does great innovation come from a stand-alone person; it is most often the result of a team of like-minded individuals. A leader with superior communication skills is able not only to communicate a process or idea, but is able to elevate those skills to encourage advancement of an innovation to a purpose that drives the team. He is able to get the buy-in necessary by fostering communication amongst the individuals and promoting the type of team interaction necessary for continued innovation.
Translating IT strengths into leadership outcomes.
IT leaders are highly trained at creating effective and efficient solutions that are often fraught with barriers and unseen outcomes. Agility, innovation, and creativity abound for leaders in this profession when facing the work they do. Learning to leverage those thought processes to achieve the potential in others can be a critical advantage for them: both for themselves personally and for the people they lead.
Your IT team is an untapped resource for leadership given the right training!