The ever-evolving world of IT presents numerous challenges to the modern business. Logistics, the creation of relevant architecture and inter-departmental accountability are all core concerns. However, each of these metrics is of little use if an IT team is not supervised and guided with an effective leadership strategy. This can be quite challenging to accomplish within the workplace, as such a fast-paced environment may prove daunting to any supervisory team. Let us take a look at a handful of methods that should always be embraced.
Most authoritative resources list effective communication skills as a top priority (1). This includes verbal talents as well as avenues such as email (quite common within this sector). Still, the world of IT is unique in the fact that such correspondences need to be streamlined in order to embrace a proactive approach. Leaders that who espouse robust communication traits are more likely to be informed of a minor issue before it evolves into a major problem. Also, teams which are comfortable with their ability to speak with a supervisor are more likely to remain efficient during high-pressure situations.
The Importance of Tactical Coaching
Many articles focusing upon effective IT leadership skills tend to highlight strategic qualities. In other words, they emphasise the “big picture”. It is interesting to note here that some of the most effective guidance skills are exhibited by those who are able to utilise a tactical sense of leadership.
As this article illustrates, tactical coaching is much more concerned with day-to-day activities. To put this another way, we can imagine a team leader who is primarily concerned with long-term milestones such as how to increase sales within a two-year period. In contrast, a tactical approach will involve on-the-spot feedback and targeted training such as orientating a team with a new CMS system. Tactical leadership abilities should always be used in conjunction with strategic models. It is important to appreciate the difference between these two methods.
A Demonstration of Knowledge and Confidence
Confidence and knowledge go hand in hand. One cannot exist without the other. There is a pronounced difference between exhibiting superior levels of IT knowledge and an ability to disseminate these skills to subordinates. This is one of the downfalls of leadership positions in general. Many experienced individuals do not possess the confidence enough to have junior team members appreciate what it is that they have to offer. This dramatically curtails the learning curve and in the most drastic of cases, the effectiveness of the team as a whole is jeopardised.
An Integration of the Virtual Environment and the Real World
By its very definition, Information Technology embraces static knowledge with the ability to apply this knowledge into a virtual environment. This very same ideal should be personified by the skilled IT coach. This can be particularly challenging within such a sector, for it is challenging to combine the two within a malleable work environment.
One effective means to accomplish this is to combine virtual sessions with live meetings. For example, weekly communications could be comprise of:
- One hour of virtual communications every day.
- One hour every week devoted to in-house meetings.
The importance of live interaction from a coaching point of view cannot be overstated. This atmosphere enables all team members to exchange valuable ideas and to brainstorm within a constructive environment. Furthermore, it will cement to role of the IT coach; ideal to imbue confidence within junior team members.
The Power of the Plan
The ability to create a roadmap towards success is another hallmark of a successful IT coach. This should be approached from both a short- and a long-term point of view. Examples of each can be seen as follows:
- Updating the infrastructure of a company over three months.
- Launching a new virtual help desk within three years.
As we can see, each can be very relevant to the industry. The main issue here is that adopting both sides of the spectrum will keep team members motivated. Possessing a clear-cut plan also illustrates to other stakeholders that the leader is at the proverbial “helm” of the IT ship.
As we have just seen, some of these qualities are entirely unique to the IT industry while others can just as easily be attributed to leadership traits in general. The main takeaway point here is that every quality should not be considered in and of itself. On the contrary, each needs to be employed alongside the others to enjoy the synergy of success. Leading a team of IT professionals is arguably one of the most difficult tasks and yet, these tips and tricks can provide the necessary insight to take the appropriate actions at the most relevant times.