Finding Your Leadership Style as a Technology Manager

Finding Your Leadership Style as a Technology Manager

Difference between a Manager and a Leader

Many things have been written about the differences between management and leadership. Less has been written about the road IT Managers must chase in order to become IT Leaders. As IT Managers, we concentrate on projects, timelines, and the physical assets of the organization. In depth thoughts and considerable efforts have been put into the proper allocation of assets, budgets, and technology resources. 

The Few Leadership Styles in IT Industry

Leaders come in many contrasting forms. They share the skills and enthusiasm to create teams of followers. Each member of the team trusts in the message and chooses to become part of something greater. This is the capability of leadership. For IT Leaders, this means creating a High Perform Team (HPT) culture in your organization. This can work for all of the groups under your responsibility whether their focus is software development, quality assurance, IT operations, help desk support, etc.

" The best leaders can bring a group of well-trained technologists together and reach very high levels of productivity and organizational success"  

The Authority-Compliance style of leadership (Blake and Mouton, 1964) is results-driven and employees are seen only as tools to accomplish these results. As a result, there is a balanced to low burden for people and the senior managers employ a rigid stratified structure in their departments. It can be seen that IT managers are confused and lack a clear vision. This surrounding can create ambiguity for employees who work best in a structured environment and need positive reply for a job well done.

The Situational style of leadership clashes to improve the organizational experience and fosters a high performing team focus. This approach emphasizes that different situations demand different types of leadership (North house, 1997). This leadership style is both directive and supportive. IT Leaders encourage the use of Directing, Coaching, and Delegating relationships with their employees depending upon what the situation required. The employee’s environment is less rigid and has more ebb and flow. This environment is more conducive for employee’s who like to be a part of a team.

The Servant style of leadership, as the name would suggest, is a service oriented role. This leader shares power, puts the needs of others first, helps their staff develop new skills and performs at a very high level (Greenleaf, 1911). This Servant Leader will step in and do the tasks that are not popular. A Leader will also be an amazing team facilitator who advantages adult learning theory methods in order to teach and affect the employee to be as great as he or she can be.

The Transformational style of leadership emphasizes advancement within an organization. This leader works with their staff to create a shared vision for the future and then guides the change process using their organizational skills and inspirational actions. They strive to appreciate the interests, morale, and productivity of each team throughout the company. These endeavors take time, training, and patience for the transformation to take place. The change often starts with the IT Leader and will flow throughout the IT Organization.

Finding your leadership style

There is a straightforward path for IT Managers to add Leadership to their list of executive skills. Technologists are accustomed to learning new skills on almost a continuous basis. New hardware, software, and virtualized solutions appear in the market yearly. IT Managers are expected to stay updated on these discoveries by evaluating, researching and determining where they may fit it in their technology road map. Including leadership to your skill set should be just as easy. However, in practice, it is seen to be far more difficult. These new skills may seem very distant but they can be incorporated into your skillset in a very familiar way. Here are few ways to get started down the road to your leadership style:

1. Add leadership topics to your reading list

2. Study a number of different styles including: Situational, Servant, Transformational, Visionary

3. Start a journal on leadership topics and write down the styles that are compelling to you

4. Identify the characteristics that are already part of your style

5. Accept the characteristics that you need to improve on

6. Create your own inspirational message based on your new found style

7. Include this new language into your daily interactions as a way to make followership

8. Target on what you say in meetings, how you write your emails, and the way of your presentations

9. Study your associate leaders and consider their leadership style

10. Find a mentor and absorb some of their best tracts into your own style

In the end, the best way to act like a leader in your IT company is to search your leadership approach and focus on communication and team building. Two excellent books to consider reading are “Leadership & the Art of Conversation” written by Kim Krisco and “Leading with Soul: An Uncommon Journey of Spirit” written by Lee Bolman. Each of these books examines the path a manager takes on the ways to becoming a great leader.

Additionally, leaders build high performing teams by investing in their staff. Managers typically only have a primary relationship with their employees. They expect employees to come to work, take direction, and do their best. However, Leaders devote themselves to their staff and create an inferior relationship. Leaders give staff members choices, provide regular coaching opportunities, and show them a way to the next step in their career.

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