How to Develop Effective IT Leaders

tarting in IT, how do you get promoted? You get promoted by being a really great, competent programmer or troubleshooter. Unfortunately, these are often the same traits that get someone promoted to management. But a brilliant coder does not instantly become a brilliant leader, let alone a good manager. Lee Reese writes for CIO Insight about what senior IT leaders can do to develop the soft skills of new IT managers, so that they are best able to carry their teams to success.

Growing Leaders

Your HR department likely maintains a list of core competencies for leaders in the organization, so use them as a foundation. From that, you can create more IT-centric versions of competencies to use in the IT department. You will want to evaluate your managers on where they stand with each of these skills, and Reese recommends asking stakeholders to do their own additional evaluations on IT. If there is a discrepancy, it is most practical to agree with the stakeholders’ viewpoint.

Either way, your managers deserve one-on-one time with you, where you can go over with them the areas in which they can improve. These sessions should of course be handled with care, lest you turn your managers into nervous wrecks who think the guillotine is looming. You should also remember that each manager is going to improve in individualized ways, whether it is coaching, mentoring, or something else. Whatever path is chosen, it will require IT leaders to step out of their comfort zone.

When it comes to officially reporting back to your own boss on how leadership is improving, Reese recommends sticking to two core competencies at maximum on which to talk:

You may have a picture of where you want your team to grow, but your supervisor may have a different idea–this is critical stakeholder communication. This is not only about direct reports daily behavior, it’s about your boss’ view of you as a leader. You’ll be surprised what can be learned in these discussions.

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