Information technology leadership is crucial for aligning IT with core business objectives. When talking about leadership in IT, you’re typically talking about Chief Information Officers, Chief Data Officers, or Chief Digital Officers.
Whatever the role, IT leaders are no longer just operators of technology. They must now work to orchestrate how technology helps to achieve core strategic goals and transform their enterprise. Technology leaders will need more soft skills and additional leadership skills as companies go digital-first and their roles expand.
If you’re part of a technology leadership team at your company, here are four practices you should start pursuing today.
1. Leverage Your Peer Network
IT is often criticized for “not doing enough” or being “overstaffed.” Such opinions are subjective, but IT departments must continually prove their worth through concrete metrics and demonstrations of value.
While Gartner and Forrester can provide generic (and expensive) research in these areas, a quick and cheap way to achieve a more focused result is to tap your peer network and obtain objective, comparative metrics from your counterparts. With this data, you can say, “Similar sized IT organizations have X headcount, execute Y projects per year, and spend Z% of revenue on IT budget.”
This isn’t just a useful talent when reporting to other leaders at your company. It can help motivate the entire IT department, too.
2. Socialize Where You Play
Business units are often confused about where IT plays and what IT does.
Does IT do all reporting or just some? Does IT build cloud networks or is that engineering? Does IT manage Salesforce or does the business do that directly?
Figure out where you play and have an elevator pitch that’s memorable. Think of IT as a business. Who are your customers? What are your products? And better yet: Who don’t you serve? Don’t spread yourself too thin!
3. Build and Publish Your Staffing Skills Forecast
Staff want to know how to develop professional skills to remain relevant over time. General topics such as “Machine Learning” or “Blockchain” don’t provide IT staff with enough detail to build a career trajectory. Go one level deeper and connect the dots between corporate goals, IT objectives, and the skills that support said objectives.
For new staff, ensure knowledge continuity by building a knowledge base and a system for transferring knowledge to new employees. This system can be as complicated as you want to make it (for example, it could utilize AI or machine learning), but as long as it reduces the amount of time your veteran IT staff spend in knowledge transfer meetings, that’s a plus.
Both new and veteran staff should have a clear and reference-able understanding of how their skills will develop.
4. Continue to Build Your Own Career Trajectory
Just because you’re in a leadership position doesn’t mean your own career development should stagnate. Build your own measurable path towards continuous personal improvement.
Stay curious and analyze your options. As more and more companies switch to a digital-first mentality, you’ll find that a combination of both technical and leadership skills will serve you well in the future.