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Essential leadership skills for IT personnel

Michael Snow
18/02/16
There are some qualities that are prevalent in all leaders regardless of their area of work. Typically these include – good communication skills, an ability to motivate others, a willingness to take risks, enthusiasm and a strong focus.

The type of skills required for managers and senior IT staff aren’t that different to those in other sectors. There can however be a tendency for IT managers to focus too much on the technical aspects of their job and not enough on the soft skills that are essential for good leadership. Here are the type of qualities that all leaders working in IT should possess or aspire to have.

Empower staff

An ability to empower employees is one of the most important qualities that a leader can have. IT leaders need to be able to trust their employees to carry out tasks on their own initiative without supervision.

If for example, there are problems within a network it is important for IT personnel to have the confidence to solve these problems quickly and efficiently without feeling the need to go their superior for guidance.

Being a role model

At the same time, a leader needs to be a good role model for their staff. It is important to keep abreast of changes in the industry and to display a strong technical knowledge of IT systems and the role of employees in order to receive and maintain their respect.

Teamwork

Teamwork is vital to all organisations across all sectors. In IT, members of the team may have expertise in one particular area and not another. It is therefore important to galvanise the team and utilise each individual’s strengths if an IT project is to be successful. Being a leader is as much about organising, supporting and being an active participant, as it is about delegating and giving direction.

Influence or persuasion

It is common for IT managers, especially the more senior ones, to have to sell their ideas to others. Implementing new IT systems can incur high costs and considerable upheaval, so persuading others that it is in the best long term interests of the company can be a challenge. Having the confidence and gravitas to be able to do this is essential for good leadership.

Networking skills

As the IT function became more central to organisations, so too did the role of IT managers. No longer viewed as individuals merely there to offer technical support, IT professionals need to have strong communication skills and the ability to network inside and outside of the organisation. Good personable skills are also useful when it comes to negotiating for software and IT upgrades and building relationships with network providers.

With IT being at the essence of business, the role of IT leaders has never carried more weight. Having the right qualities to succeed becomes an influential factor when assessing the strengths or weaknesses of potential managerial candidates, whereby soft skills are just as important as in-depth knowledge and ability.

Read our related blog: How did technology change the face of the workplace in 2015?
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