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How to become a better leader

Rich Hein | May 2, 2014
Being a great leader takes hard work and dedication, but most of the necessary skills can be learned if you're willing to put in the time and effort. Here are 13 ways to help transform any manager, in IT or beyond, into becoming a better leader.

Develop Your Strategy Skills
One of the biggest challenges facing IT leadership according to Ford Myers, an executive career coach and author of Get the Job You Want, Even When No One's Hiring, is the alignment of technology solutions and overall business objectives. As IT management roles continue to evolve, tech leaders have to become better at this alignment in order to be perceived as a vital strategic partner with the company's leadership. Technology leaders also need to, as Myers puts it, "embrace the concept that IT is a tool to drive business success, and not an end in itself." Our experts offer these further tips on improving your strategic thinking.

Brush recommends a book by the author Michael Porter entitled Competitive Strategy and Competitive Advantage to get a better understanding of what strategy is. "If you accept the fact that some of Porters examples will be dated and you focus on the key concepts, these will be great resources. These are timeless strategic concepts that will help someone to get their arms around what they should be thinking about when thinking strategically."

Take Classes - Even if you are only able to pursue part of an MBA or equivalent according to Donald Burns, an executive career coach and strategist, these types of business classes will help you improve your business strategy.

Work on a Business Case Study - Another tip offered by Burns, "A great way to improve strategic thinking is to participate with a team on a reality-based case study, the classic MBA business case," says Burns. If you can't do this in your workplace then find a non-profit to volunteer your time on order to get your case-study experience.

Develop Your Communication Skills
You can't be a great leader if you can't articulate your point effectively to people. According to Burns, poor communication skills are something he sees over and over again with IT leaders in particular. "This sounds like a stereotype cliché, but many IT professionals - and senior IT leaders - do not communicate clearly. As a career coach and resume writer, I see this firsthand, and usually I see it in two versions, number one is extremely detailed answers when all I'm asking for is a high-level interview; or number two, which are extremely detailed explanations of bureaucratic decision-making processes, sometimes called 'insider baseball." says Burns.

If you are constantly using negative reinforcement or you don't illustrate the importance and relevance of what your team is doing and how it fits into the big picture then you aren't leading right and you will find your team member turnover increasing. "The shortage of highly skilled IT workers puts a premium on keeping the best," says Brush.

 

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