Every professional knows that as you build your career, you’re looking toward becoming a leader in your field. After all, everyone wants to leave their mark. That role will, of course, look a little different depending on your particular niche and area of expertise. Still, no matter what you do, leadership usually involves less practicing your craft and more decision-making and setting an example for others.
This is no different in IT. Smaller-scale fixes and implementation of technology will generally be left to your talented team, while the bigger decisions and plans will be in your hands. You need to be an expert in technology, but you also need to be an innovator, a global thinker, and a go-to problem-solver. So, how do you rise to the top of the IT ladder? Here are some tips.
Always Have Your Organization’s Goals in Mind
At the end of the day, your responsibility is to your organization. Every decision you make should be in service to the business goals of the company. You may have ideas about the best technologies to implement, but if they don’t meet the business needs and support the bigger picture, then they don’t fit in with the vision of your organization.
To that end, focus on initiatives that align with the industry in question and, of course, the specific organization’s priorities. Make your initiatives fit in with those objectives instead of doing the opposite. Measure metrics that make the organization as a whole work better.
Search for Ways to Innovate
That said, there is still plenty of room to innovate when you’re working toward the larger organization’s goals. Consider how you can solve problems, whether they are acute or ongoing. For example, practically every organization has experienced disruption because of COVID-19, and as an IT leader, you can focus on developing unique ways to help people work and collaborate from home.
Keep searching for different methods of addressing holes and combating problems within your organization. Consider different angles and approaches to doing things that may have been done a certain way for years.
But Remember that Technology Isn’t Always the Solution
Still, keep in mind that some business initiatives may not require your involvement or any kind of technological intervention at all. It’s important to remember that processes that are flowing smoothly don’t usually need disruption. Be careful not to overstep and involve yourself in areas of the business that don’t fall within your scope and purview. This is a sign of respect to your colleagues — recognizing that everyone has their own territory.
Communicate with and Support Your Team
As a leader, you’re the person making larger decisions, while your team members actually do the work to carry out these initiatives. Recognize and appreciate their efforts by keeping them well-informed, as well as offering support. For example, if an IT specialist has too much work on their plate, consider distributing the work more evenly and letting that employee know that you value their efforts and recognize they’ve been going above and beyond.
Also, make sure your team members know the rationale behind the work they do. Keep them informed about the larger missions and connect the dots, explaining how your IT efforts fit into the big picture and help the organization meet its goals.
One sign of any great leader is knowing when to do a task yourself and knowing when to delegate to others. It’s impossible to do everything yourself, and recognizing your limitations will benefit the entire organization. Delegating will also help your employees grow — you’ll be giving them additional responsibilities and allowing them to learn and develop skills.
If your entire team is overextended, you might even engage an IT outsourcing partner. This can help relieve some of the burdens while ramping up and supporting your team’s efforts.
Communicate with Other Organizational Leaders
You probably know the importance of communication across different departments within your organization. But considering how you communicate is equally important. Other leaders are experts in their niches, but they may not understand the individual technological approaches and language you’re employing. Be careful about knowing how to explain your efforts and ideas in a way that is digestible to your peers who are not technology professionals.
You should also work to build solid working relationships with leaders across the organization. You’ll be working with almost every department, so it’s important that you develop respect for and understanding of one another.
Juggle Responsibilities and Prioritize
As you probably already know from working in IT, the field involves juggling many different tasks at a time. You’ll need to establish a system for prioritizing different responsibilities depending on the circumstances.
For example, even if you’re working on a large-scale project to introduce a more effective communication system within the organization, if a network goes down, you need to be prepared to deal with the network issue immediately.
Adaptability goes hand-in-hand with juggling a myriad of responsibilities. You’ll encounter unforeseen circumstances that may require you to pivot completely. We’re experiencing a challenge right now with the pandemic, and the IT industry was forced to rise to the task of helping their organizations move their operations to remote environments.
You must also encourage your team to be adaptable and provide them with the support and resources they need to do so — whether that means additional time, scheduling flexibility, and so on.
These qualities and skills will help you be a great leader specifically in the IT sector. There are also plenty of characteristics every leader should have, including:
- critical thinking
- emotional intelligence
- time management
Armed with these qualities, you’ll set yourself up for success across technology and beyond.