Most Important Skills for Rising IT Leaders: Part Two

By Shelby Hiter
Rising IT leader leading a business meeting.

Rising IT leaders need to cultivate several new skills that have little to do with the technical skillset that got them to that point. Read on for five people- and vision-oriented skills that every IT professional should develop as they learn to lead and mentor their teammates. Check out part one for other important skills that rising IT leaders need to succeed.

Read Part One Here: Most Important Skills for Rising IT Leaders: Part One

Part One:Rising IT leader leading a business meeting.

  1. Team vs. Company Contributions

  2. Nuanced Communication Skills

  3. A Coaching Mindset

  4. Technical Expertise

  5. Problem-Solving Handoff

Part Two:

  1. Peer Group Cultivation

  2. Research and Vision for the Future

  3. Positivity and Emotional Intelligence

  4. Team Growth Opportunities

  5. Diversifying Your Team

  1. Peer Group Cultivation

One of the most important skills for a leader is learning how to balance personal, team, and company goals. However, leaders often lose sight of the company's top goals when they're bogged down in the daily details of IT projects and team dynamics. 

Here's where a peer group comes in handy. Cultivate a group of fellow emerging leaders in your company who help you stay focused on the company's overall goals and help you understand how your department contributes to them. This group can also be a great resource for creating cross-department collaboration and efficiency opportunities. 

When you regularly engage with your non-IT peers, you'll receive constant support in your less technical obligations as a leader, and you'll see what efforts are helping other teams to grow and progress in their goals. You'll also see what's not working, and you’ll be able to offer assistance or advice to your fellow leaders.

Read More: Top 10 Main Causes of Project Failure 

  1. Research and Vision for the Future

One of your most important jobs as an emerging leader is to stay on top of what's happening in your industry, and what experts are predicting for its future. Cultivate the skill of researching and reading the latest industry news on a regular basis, and learn how to share the most relevant ideas with the team. 

Beyond knowing the trends in the industry, it's important to know what's happening on your IT team in relation to the industry and the larger company's goals. 

According to Tommy Whited, Software Engineering Manager at TechnologyAdvice, it's all about expanding your focus. 

“If you focus only on what you need to accomplish as you did when you were a developer, you will not succeed. You need to learn to look at the bigger picture and watch the challenges and progress of the team as a whole."

Read Next: COVID’s Impact: Automation, Remote Work, Management

  1. Positivity and Emotional Intelligence

Never underestimate the power of a good attitude. If a project is going really well, encourage your team with public praise for the employees who are exceeding expectations. When projects get stressful or new problems arise, hold onto that positive attitude and be the support system that your team needs to get through it. 

On a more personal level, work on emotional intelligence reflective skills, like identifying your own levels of self-awareness and self-regulation on a daily basis. Thinking about your responses to stressful situations lets you know what sets you off emotionally so you can work on controlling how your reactions affect your team. Your company’s HR or learning & development departments likely have leadership development curricula that can help you cultivate these skills.

It's also important to practice perceiving others' emotions through social awareness and social regulation. Talk to your team often, and you'll start sensing if a team member is having a good or bad day. Learn how they express their feelings, and as their manager, learn what you can do to support them through whatever kind of day they're having.

Read More: Improving Project Management Through Emotional Intelligence 

  1. Team Growth Opportunities

Just because you know how to complete every task doesn't mean that you should complete every task in the department. Look for opportunities to pass off more day-to-day work to your team members, or better yet, train them on a new task so that they can complete it and train other team members in the future. 

The time that you spend on training is never wasted; it creates opportunities for your team to learn new skills and to learn how to become team leaders themselves.

Read More: IT Skills Shortage Drives Need to Invest in Internal Training

  1. Diversifying Your Team

If everyone on your team thinks just like you, your team will never grow. Hire people from different industries, age groups, races and ethnicities, educational backgrounds, and personalities. You'll find yourself creating a team that builds on existing ideas and challenges each other to think of new ideas in a different way. 

Become a Leader Who Builds Leaders 

All of these skills revolve around one common goal: becoming an IT leader who works with others in a way that builds them into leaders over time. Whether it's the newest hire on your team or the most seasoned project manager, you should always be thinking about how you can support them in their existing roles, and grow in their own careers. As a rising IT leader yourself, you know about many of the stepping stones and roadblocks they will face in their professional growth.

Part of the growth trajectory of a team leader is learning how to most effectively manage an ongoing project or subtask. Although a lot of project management work can be done manually or requires the human touch of your team, project management tools exist to supplement your team's skills and help them solve the small and the big problems on a project. 

Are you interested in finding a project management resource that supports your team's growth and bandwidth? Check out this project management selection tool to get started!

This article was originally published on 04-27-2021