As the role of business technology evolves, growing companies will increasingly rely on IT leaders to take them to the next level. Do you have what it takes to move into management? Here are six traits that every successful leader should have – and that IT professionals can work on to land a leadership role.
1. Great leaders are energetic and enthusiastic. They are energized by helping others perform at a higher level. They nurture a positive attitude about the company and the work their team is doing. They are honest about the problems they face, but work to infuse their teams with the confidence needed to overcome.
2. They have strong decision-making skills. Great technology leaders know how to be decisive. This is especially true with regard to building a successful team to carry out the company’s mission. Great candidates often have a short ‘shelf-life’ – they have other offers to consider. IT leaders have learned that when they meet the right candidate, they can’t afford to fall into analysis paralysis.
3. Good leaders are hands-on, but they don’t micro-manage. Once they build the right team, technology leaders know when to get out of the way. They create an environment that allows individuals to use their talents, solve problems and make decisions without constant feedback. Teams that are empowered in this way can work at a faster pace and finish projects more quickly.
4. They are networked. Top leaders realize they do not have all the answers. They have a network of internal and external thought leaders they can engage to define the best solutions to issues they face.
5. Top leaders know that ‘two heads are better than one.’ While IT professionals are great at solving problems and working independently, moving into a leadership position means becoming an expert collaborator. Leaders must work collaboratively with the heads of other business units and rely on their teams to work well together too.
6. They reward and recognize their teams.The best leaders understand that their performance depends on the performance of their teams, so they recognize and reward their staff early and often. They give credit where credit is due to keep morale high and boost productivity. Often a top leader will provide spontaneous recognition before the completion of a large project.
If you think you have leadership potential, the first step is to get out of your comfort zone. Start to focus on demonstrating leadership qualities in your current role, such as collaborating with others, fostering a positive environment and recognizing teammates for a job well done. Read books or attend seminars that will help you enhance the skills and qualities mentioned here. Network inside and outside the company to learn from other leaders. And finally, let your supervisors know about your goal and ask for their help. Soon you’ll see new opportunities appear!