Senior IT decision makers need to always keep an eye out for areas where there is dependency and alignment with other functions
It would not be unrealistic to say that the best functions of any individual come about truly when there is an alignment with the surrounding frameworks and environment. What does it mean? It obviously means that senior IT decision makers, in this case, need to always keep an eye out for areas where there is dependency and alignment with other functions.
This means it is the primary requisite for a leader to look at the bright spots in the organisation which can boost his role or performance and prove his leadership skills.
Leveraging the Bright Spot
While spotting is important, how leaders leverage and encourage that key area of focus and enable the business and other functions to see the advantage of the alignment becomes critical. This will help IT to move away from the mundane job of just being a support system meant only to keep the lights on.
“The primary requisite for a leader is to look at the bright spots in the organisation which can boost his role or performance and prove his leadership skills”
There are certain areas which provide senior IT managers with that opportunity that will enable them to hugely impact the business and prove leadership skills.
To make this happen, IT managers should fundamentally believe that new business ideas come from the IT department, as they begin to understand business needs. Start asking more questions of each business function, make an effort to understand that and tie it to the back end system; this would then trigger thoughts around innovation: what best can we do to meet this business goal? Obviously, any innovative thought coming from IT is definitely appreciated and recognised.
Find an opportunity to meet other leaders
I would strongly recommend that senior IT leaders create an opportunity for all leaders to meet each other on a periodic basis to understand each other’s functions and challenges and not work in silos.
It is crucial to share goals and achievements of these leaders, celebrate successes, highlight the bright spots of the nature of work and tie that to the outcome of the business—which, in a way, will fetch the necessary recognition. IT as a department, according to me, is clued into every function and there is no way that it needs to work in a silo environment. IT can be the catalyst, similar to an HR function maintaining the hygiene of the organisation.
Be a good listener
One other way in which senior IT teams can look at it is to move teams across functions on rotation so as to understand and empathise with the work culture and demands. A senior IT manager needs to be a good listener before imposing frameworks or rules; this will help in becoming a better leader.
I can recall an instance at a large bank inNorth America, where the DGM-IT displayed amazing leadership skills in enabling the entire business groups to migrate to Windows 7. It was not so much to do with technology play or convincing the teams. He pre-empted the objections that would come up during the implementation stage of Windows 7; his challenge was to prove his skills to pass the test.
The first step he took was to meet up with each team and listen to what their critical portions were and how it affected them if there was a change. The approach he took was to say, let me help you do this on a different platform and show you the advantages of using the new platform and how it eases your job. It was not just superficial talk; he created a live model of how the migration to the new module could enhance their performance. He also showcased the risk that could be caused to the business if the change was not made, while also showing how it could be transformed without much disruption. It paid off and he could successfully manage the change.
Reality based leadership
This is an interesting phenomenon catching up across enterprises in all the countries. This concept helps leaders to step away from any irrational or hypothetical environment, and to break into the facts to derive conclusions.
This is necessary because of the changing market dynamics, as technology enables one to escalate to CXO levels. IT leaders need to aspire to reach that level and become advocates of change.