Why IT Professionals Need More Leadership Qualities to Earn Respect
If you are an IT professional struggling to climb the corporate ladder, the problem might be your managerial skill sets. You have likely spent your career gaining certifications, learning new technologies, and assembling as much technical expertise as possible – all of which are valuable and very important for your career. This strategy is what makes you great at your job, but may not be enough to move you up the management ladder. If your goal is to move into a management position, you need to start developing your leadership qualities in addition to your hard skill sets. Here’s why:
Leaders Get Noticed
Given the team-based orientation of most IT work, it’s hard for individuals to stand out. No matter how large your own contribution was to the success of a project, you likely won’t be singled out for praise by upper-level decision makers. Positioning yourself as a leader makes you distinct from your colleagues and highlights the unique contribution you make to your team. This may be accomplished in many different ways depending on your company, but strategies to display your leadership abilities may include taking over project management, including current leadership in a change initiative or showcasing your ability to assist team members that need help with aspects of a project.
Managers Aren’t Technical
Managers are chosen for their management abilities, not solely their technical abilities, even in technical professions. You might have a brilliant mind of coding, but if you haven’t shown the people above you that you can lead a team, motivate them to be more productive, guide them through rough patches, and keep them focused, you may never receive serious consideration when a management position opens up.
Leadership Demonstrates Initiative
IT managers and executives are not oblivious to the nature of IT work. They understand how essential technical ability is, and how easy it is to neglect other skills. Therefore, having leadership abilities are a clear indicator you have put in the time and effort to makes yourself a truly dynamic professional. Demonstrate these abilities by taking the lead on a team project or mentoring a new team member. That kind of initiative and foresight is exactly what decision makers are looking for.
Stereotypes Still Dominate
Unfortunately, the stereotype that IT professionals are introverted outsiders who lack the soft skills necessary for business are still pervasive, even in technically oriented companies. The qualities that we associate with leaders are often the exact same ones that we assume IT professionals are lacking. Building and demonstrating these qualities proves to decision makers that you fit into their preconceived notion of what a manager should be.
Leadership can be Personal
Leaders are confident, comfortable being front and center, willing to take risks, and bold by nature. These qualities make them great at assembling and organizing others, but also at taking control of their own lives. Cultivating your leadership skills not only proves to others that you have what it takes to move up, it also proves it to yourself. If you are looking to improve these skills, consider looking to a career mentor to help you shape and develop the needed skills and experience you seek.
Understanding the value of leadership qualities is easy, cultivating those same qualities is the hard part. If you are ready to take control of your career and evolve yourself into management material, work with the experienced Chicago recruiting professionals at CultureFit.