Knowledge & Insight

Common traits shared by successful IT leaders

Thu 22 May 2014

No two senior executives are the same, but there are a number of characteristics that most good leaders share – they are self aware, have great integrity, and they are results focussed. Yet within the IT sector there are additional traits exhibited by a great many leaders, and that’s because the IT sector poses some rather unique challenges. It is the pace of change that sets the technology sector apart - no other industry is evolving so rapidly, in so many different directions and through so many different dimensions. And that requires leaders with some rather special abilities.

Continuing professional development

In such a dynamic environment, continuing professional development is critical, and that’s not restricted to technical aspects of the job. In the IT sector there are new markets, new business models, new technologies and new customer groups emerging every day, so leaders must be up-to-speed commercially as well as technically. Successful leaders must take practical steps to learn and grow, regardless of other pressures on their time. This might mean a formal course at a university, or simply reading a book. But whichever route they choose, good leaders show a strong commitment to continuing professional development.

Great communication skills

The ability to communicate effectively is a must for all IT leaders, because engaging with people at every level within their organisation is such an essential part of the role. Good leaders should be able to engage with stakeholders, motivate staff, communicate with fellow board members, and convey their thoughts and ideas clearly to the wider public and to the press and online media. And they must be able to accomplish this across all channels, including verbal, email and via formal presentation.

Good decision-making

The ability to make decisions under pressure is a key asset for any CIO. This doesn’t simply require a cool temperament, although that certainly helps. To consistently make good decisions, an individual must be able to analyse complex concepts, evaluate the reports and opinions of different departments, take an objective approach when considering potential outcomes, and balance the pros and cons of diverse courses of action. And in the IT sector, this process has to take place within the context of a rapidly changing business environment.

Effective problem solving

The ability to solve problems is a key asset for many people in the IT sector, whatever their role might be. And as a great many CIO’s have risen through the ranks, it’s no surprise that this talent is so common amongst successful IT leaders. Yet it’s not a skill that anyone should take for granted, and although some people are born with an innate ability to solve problems, it’s still a skill that can be honed through proper training.

CIO executive search

The IT industry is very different from any other commercial sector, which means IT leadership executive search requires the services of a true specialist. Stone Executive is an experienced IT leadership executive search firm with a team of seasoned IT leadership headhunters and CIO headhunters. Our deep insight into the sector and our unrivalled professional network puts us firmly amongst the UK’s top CIO executive search firms.

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