What's so special about IT leadership?


Is IT leadership somehow different from leadership in general? A lot of people don't think so, but Marc J. Schiller, author of The 11 Secrets of Highly Influential IT Leaders, insists it is. The proof, Schiller argues in a post at CIO Insight, is in a widespread opinion among CIOs that their own staffs have insufficient leadership skills.

Schiller notes that it's “no longer cool to just be a great manager. Now you have to a leader. In fact, almost overnight everyone had to become a leader.”  When you mix this “leadership frenzy” with the interest on the part of CIOs to become more like business managers, it creates a situation in which CIOs think they have to become proficient in conventional leadership. However, he argues, there are three important differences between the leadership needs of general managers and IT managers: Basic leadership models, difference in context and individual versus team orientation.

Unlike general leaders, IT leaders need skills to lead people who don't report to them regularly. They also need to teach their team members how to lead executives, over whom they have no authority. Overall, they are leading people through initiatives rather than day-to-day tasks.

While general leadership development spotlights the individual, IT leadership takes a more holistic look at the team. CIOs have to know how to manage user expectations, and all areas of the department have to practice this function.

For more:
- see Marc J. Schiller's post at CIO Insight

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