Copyright © 2019 - Ahmed Albalooshi | | Bahrain

The Difference between IT Management and IT Leadership

You know those meetings. The ones that come after a disruptive IT outage. You need to sit down and discuss the root-cause, solution and how to avoid this disruption again. As I was sitting in one of those meetings, something happened that woke me up from a mind-numbing discussion. It was something that one of the IT managers said. This IT manager was in-charge of the servers the caused the outage. “I am the leader of the department, I know what I am doing” said the IT manager defending himself against the accusation of his role in causing the disruption. 

“I am the leader of the department, I know what I am doing” said an IT manager!

Those words struck me. If this person thinks he or she is a leader, then there is a bigger problem than once-off server failure. I strongly believe that stating that you are a leader just to quell an attack on you is a trait of a false leadership. Moreover, instead of engaging in a blame game and being defensive, leadership is about finding a solution, not problems that could be used to attack others. Henry Ford once said: “Don’t find fault, find a remedy”.

“Don’t find fault, find a remedy” Henry Ford

It is a myth that managers and leaders are the same, let alone possess the same skills. Many times, managers and leaders are used interchangeably. However, the difference is huge! Management entails authority, and leadership entails influence. That is an obvious distinction. Managers possess the authority to let things happen. They can accomplish goals through power, reward and punishment. On the other hand, leaders achieve goals through influence and enabling people to do things beyond their abilities.

IT Management Vs. IT Leadership

The following infographic illustrates the difference between IT Management and IT Leadership:

The Impact of Leadership on IT Compared to Management and the Importance of IT Leadership

Leadership is more important than management in IT. Today, IT leaders must be equipped with the correct leadership skills, knowledge, and abilities to cope with the demands of IT.

Leadership, not management, is the vital force that organizes and motivates the organization to accomplish its company objectives

Leadership maximizes productivity, shapes and promotes a positive and harmonious culture. IT leadership involves taking the initiative to undertake new methods without being afraid of failure; this is very important in order to cope with the multifaceted technological changes in the IT industry. It is about building capabilities to turn technology into business solutions that enable the business to achieve its objectives and strategy.

An IT leader not only possesses wide-ranging leadership skills but has detailed technology-related knowledge about the mediums, tools, strategies, and competencies existing in this culture. An IT leader also has the knowledge on how to utilize and assess these tools, and also has the awareness of the impact of these tools on the future of the organization.

What an IT Manager should do to become an IT leader? 

Managing people is a necessary skill to succeed in IT. However, in order for a company to succeed in the IT industry, a manager should be a leader. If you desire to climb the ladder to becoming an IT leader for the new millennium – a globe of enormous technological advancements and high technology tools – develop and pursue these strong leadership skills:

1. Be self-aware

Before you can look at yourself in the perspective of your subordinates and your company, be a self-aware leader, you need to know who you are.

2. Learn to listen, work with other people and delegate

The range and profundity of IT mean that no single individual can know it all. An IT leader must know when to keep quiet and surround himself with subordinates who balance his strengths and weaknesses.

3. Develop great communication skills

The ability to communicate is an essential skill required to be a great leader. As an IT leader, you will work with employees from different departments and all walks of life. You must be proficient enough to clearly express your message.

4. Be authentic

Leaders know their personality, characteristics, style, and purposely desire to lead instead of attempting to be an unfortunate imitation of somebody they admire.

5. Create a safe-to-fail atmosphere

Generating an environment wherein employees are supported to take chances and open with failure provides employees with self-confidence to try new things, and this can spur innovation.

6. Be adept at problem-solving

An IT leader is a problem-solver at heart.

7. Generate a collaborative environment

An IT leader must discontinue being an individual contributor. This means that getting their work done must be integrated with the help of others.

8. Be empathetic

A great leader must be capable of metaphorically put himself in others’ shoes to fully comprehend their point of view.

9. Be action-orientated and selfless

A leader is enthusiastic to do something for the overall good of the organization.

10. Be bold, visionary and spiritually-grounded

A true leader is well-equipped to face the challenges of the 21st century. IT Leader is a business leader.