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10 ways to be an authentic IT leader

Rich Hein | July 16, 2013
Getting all your people onboard and moving in the same direction is paramount to success in the fast-paced environment of IT.

6. Be Consistent
"You don't want to be Dr. Jekyll when things go one way and Mr. Hyde when they go another. If you made a mistake, admit it quickly and express what you've learned from it," says Rucker. Consistency helps team members to better understand what to expect in any given situation. If your team members know the goals and what it takes to get there, they'll make better choices on their own.

"The consistent leader, through a consistency based on values, gives the team member a better grasp on what they can expect when making a decision. The more they know about what to expect, the more likely that they'll have less fear to make choices on their own. It reduces bottlenecks, if nothing else," says Eiler.

7. Keep Growing and Measure Your Progress
Growing professionally is something you must incorporate into your daily life. "The world changes a lot, particularly in technology, so you need to keep up with the changes in order to stay capable," says Eiler.

Rucker advises that you find a way to get ongoing feedback from others so you can constantly see how well you're doing. Then use that so you can improve on your success and your level of delivery to your partners, peers and customers.

"Don't allow yourself to be measured in "Yes" or "No" categories, but rate yourself on a continuum. Ask people to provide examples of what you've done that makes them rate you that way. If you know you're particularly narcissistic (and unfortunately many leaders are), imagine that you are being considered for an award and you will be rated by your peers, or you'll have to have others speak on your behalf to demonstrate how well you've done. It's harder to lie to yourself about how well you're doing when you're forced to consider what others have to say," says Rucker.

8. Draw on Your Experiences
In Bill George's book, Discovering your Authentic Leadership, researchers found that authentic leaders are able to draw heavily on their life experiences:

Analyzing 3,000 pages of transcripts, our team was startled to see that these people did not identify any universal characteristics, traits, skills or styles that led to their success. Rather, their leadership emerged from their life stories. Consciously and subconsciously, they were constantly testing themselves through real-world experiences and reframing their life stories to understand who they were at their core. In doing so, they discovered the purpose of their leadership and learned that being authentic made them more effective.

"You have a wealth of knowledge and experiences inside you that you can apply to leading your people. Learn to draw on those experiences and turn them in to stories you can share with your colleagues and directs to not only bring credibility to way you say, but to bring a sense of connection to your relationship," says Rucker.

 

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