Leadership

Video: Essential competencies for IT leaders

IT leaders need a full arsenal of cross-functional skills, including a lot of stuff that goes beyond the traditional IT skill set. Learn several skills you need to develop in order to excel in an IT leadership role. Some of them might surprise you.

IT leaders need a full arsenal of cross-functional skills, including a lot of stuff that goes beyond the traditional IT skill set. While it helps to be well grounded in the company's technology platforms and it's important to have strong business management skills, some of other essential competencies are a bit harder to pin down. This episode of Sanity Savers for IT executives discusses several skills you need to develop in order to excel in an IT leadership role. Some of them might surprise you.

For those of you who prefer text to video, you can click the "Transcript" link underneath the video or you can read the original article from Jeff Relkin that this episode was based on: 10 essential competencies for IT pros.

About

Jason Hiner is the Global Editor in Chief of TechRepublic and Global Long Form Editor of ZDNet. He is an award-winning journalist who writes about the people, products, and ideas that are revolutionizing the ways we live and work in the 21st century.

9 comments
fidlrjiffy
fidlrjiffy

Why? Because it mentions Joe Torre as an example of a great manager...who got fired.

msrprescott
msrprescott

I think this was useful to listen to. Much of this was commmon sense but important to get validation in positioning for a career here.

clixandru
clixandru

Excellent. Thank you, Jason!

TheSwabbie
TheSwabbie

Excellent video Jason, you made some very good and valid points along with recommendations for overcoming these problems. I think I know why you put #1 (Politics and Culture) where you did. If anything is a handicap for IT Professionals, its this crucial and fundamental point. In my humble opinion, IT guys/gals on the whole suck at reading politics and culture. Like you said, we are good with Code & Wire and Hardware, however, we fall down hard in this crucial area, I've learned over the years that you can be "Super Tech" but never be on top because you don't know how the organization is actually functioning and you run counter to some of the "flows". Its like trying to beat City Hall, it's not going to happen. I think after we get our butts waxed a few times we're a little smarter for the pain. We then pick ourselves up and dust off and learn how to be more adept at it...at least this has been my experience. Its not always about how good looking we IT guys/gals usually are :) ... or how incredibly talented we are, its how we fit into the overall structure of an organization. Again, great video Jason! Have a great weekend,

esherman37
esherman37

Great video with many excellent points. I have lived and validated these values throughout my 17 yrs as an IT professional. I have recently taken a IT management position with a large government contractor. As the "new guy" coming in, I immediately experienced the road blocks with communication between departments. Departments are very segregated, and there is little cross-communication. We seem to find out at the last minute and are forced into a reactive mode instead of being involved from the initial concept phase with projects that have a direct effect on my department. We are forced to use what we are given and make it work, and often within a very limited time frame. It creates much unneeded stress and last minute resource juggling for my team. Any advice on how to breakdown these barriers and get into these meetings with established managers without rocking the boat and looking like the rebel new guy trying to impress, and alienating myself from peer managers? Thanks, Eric

Jack.B.Sprat
Jack.B.Sprat

Eric, I've worked this from fourteen years in the Army through fourteen years working for a big five pharma company. I've found that the bosses are usually the IIC (Idiot in Charge). So, when I cannot get any cooperation from them, I usually circumvent them. I will query some of the people in the department in question. I will almost always find someone trying to knock the barrier down from their side. Then we start from there and work from the bottom up. I have been trying to harmonize access management procedures for our global R&D group. I've got two guys from the other main sites in France on-board and we started aligning our processes. Now, we are at the level of pulling in our sites from Germany and Tokyo. I have never been bashful about going to the boss if I run into an impediment. I present the results to the Global Director and he's on board now. I'm political if I have to be, and you will probably bang heads with other people. But, if you are improving business processes and saving time and money, they'll listen. Be persistent! I've found they get tired of me banging on their door.

handyman1972
handyman1972

Eric, I can certainly relate to your situation and have felt your pain. It started 2 years ago with a company in complete disarray. It reminds me of one of my favorite IT jokes... A hot-air balloonist had drifted off course. He saw a man on the ground and yelled, ?Excuse me, can you tell me where I am?? ?Yes,? the guy said. ?You?re in a balloon.? ?You must work in I.T.,? the balloonist said. ?How did you know?? ?What you told me is technically correct, but of no use to anyone.? ?And you must work in management,? the man on the ground retorted. ?Yup. How?d you guess?? replied the balloonist ?It figures. You don?t know where you're at or where you are going, but you expect me to help. And you?re in the same position you were in before we met, but now it?s somehow my fault.? In serious response to your situation, here's what I found worked for me to get various departments not only communicating and cooperating, but also allowed me to "stay in the loop". Ask to attend any departmental meeting that involves changes in policy, procedures, etc., either individual or cross-department. It's a worthwhile investment of your time. During these meetings take notes, and anticipate the needs of other managers based on their brainstorming sessions. Furthermore, offer suggestions on how your department can help them achieve their objectives (before they have to ask), and then initiate and act as the moderator to get discussion flowing, all the while allowing you to be present at the want/need/brainstorming stages. Have the attitude of a facilitator/coordinator who is in a position to help the other managers achieve their goals. Ask lots of questions and offer suggestions and "what if" scenarios. Once you pull off a few successful projects (usually with your own ideas thrown in) you'll find that the other managers will naturally come to you when considering any major changes and projects. Not only do you get advanced notice, but you'll be in a position to orchestrate the changes in a way that allows your department to perform best and provide better results for the company. The bottom line is that if others won't ask you to be in the planning stages, you have to place yourself there. Be persistent. This approach allowed me to add the title of Operations Manager to the title of IT and Systems Manager (as well as a hefty raise) to my role within my company. Best of luck to you!

jmarkovic32
jmarkovic32

The best generals aren't ex-pencil pushers but decorated soldiers who fought in the trenches. He can better sympathize with those he leads. He's a skilled politician and a fearless soldier. He's in a better position to know the limits of his soldiers and won't throw them under the bus when the going gets tough. He shields the soldiers from the political BS and motivates them. An IT Manager should be the same. A skilled businessman and a seasoned IT veteran. He'll know the limits of his staff. You don't get that with an ex-bean-counter who got promoted to IT Manager. When the going gets tough, he resorts to his inner bean-counter and the team suffers.