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4 must-read IT leadership books

John Brandon | May 8, 2015
Your time is valuable and often limited, so we’ve hand-picked four books that cover the most important IT leadership issues today.

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You have your pick of hundreds of books on business, leadership and creative thinking in business. But which ones are really worth your time? These hand-picked books from 2015 address some of the most important IT leadership issues of our time, including how to analyze data more effectively, how to hire in our current "everyone is an expert" culture and what it really means to lead in the face of widespread adversity and economic upheaval.

'Data-ism: The Revolution Transforming Decision Making, Consumer Behavior, and Almost Everything Else'

Author: Steve Lohr

Data discovery is transforming how IT operates, but it is also transforming how we think about problems and how we resolve them. That's the key insight from this seminal book on the data analysis explosion happening in just about every major company. As more IT leaders hire chief data scientists and invest in the future of big data, Lohr puts it all in perspective.

"The technology and tools of data science do matter," Lohr told "But the real goal is to shift the culture across the organization, to foster a mindset, so that thinking about data becomes the starting point of inquiry. It's a mentality that can be summed in a question: What story does the data tell you? That moves the pendulum of decision-making. Data and analysis play a larger role in most decisions, and intuition and gut feel less so. Extol the virtues of data-ism, but recognize its limits. After all, intuition, at its best, is a person synthesizing a lot of data, but the kind you can't put a crisp number on."

'Act Like a Leader, Think Like a Leader'

Author: Herminia Ibarra

Leadership should be focused on providing directions to the people on your team. It's not about your personal goals and life direction. That's a key takeaway from this book on managing in an era when the teams within a large organization tend to be self-directed. The goal is to maximize how much productivity everyone can achieve, and that requires a unique leadership style.

"Today technology industry leaders need new and different skills than those that made their success in the past," Ibarra told "Technical and functional expertise now matters less at the top than business acumen and 'soft' leadership skills. It's no longer enough to be a great technologist, leaders are also expected to be strategic thinkers, who can offer their CEOs and peers insights on key decisions from an overall business perspective and not simply from the vantage point of their function, and to excel at the art of getting buy-in for their ideas from a diverse set of stakeholders. Building both of these skill sets depends on gaining external perceptive -- increasing outsight."


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