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IT leader or IT manager? How to be the best of both

Rich Hein | April 21, 2014
In his book, "Essential Drucker: Management, the Individual and Society," Peter F. Drucker says, "Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things."

In his book, "Essential Drucker: Management, the Individual and Society," Peter F. Drucker says, "Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things."

In the real world, management and leadership are hard to separate and yet both sets of distinct skills are needed. Learning the difference between these organizational traits is essential to companies that are trying to grow in the digital age. Without this knowledge, organizations often put leaders in management positions and great managers in leadership positions with anticipated results.

Want to Be an IT Leader or an IT Mangaer? How about both?

Whether you're an IT executive who needs to decide who to promote into a management role or you're an IT pro who wants to do everything possible to be both a leader and manager, it's important to understand what sets these skill sets apart?

Step 1: The Human Factor

Whether you're a leader or a manager you have to depend on other people to work towards the same goal to get the job done. The old command-and-control style of management has evolved in the tech world because, in many cases, technology has leveled the playing field leaving only the human factor.

"Once you've made your user interfaces as good as they can possibly be and eked out every last bit of operational efficiency from your processes, what do you have left? You have your people. You have your ability to inspire your employees to be engaged, productive and motivated," says Rajat Paharia, founder and chief product officer of Bunchball, a company that specializes in gamification.

"Smart companies are figuring out that by tapping into this employee motivation, they have a sustainable, repeatable and efficient way to drive business results," Paharia says.

We all have seen how over the years organizations have tried to get more and more with fewer human resources, which means to be competitive at any level you need to get the most out of the people who work around you. Telling people to work harder and faster isn't the answer. Often time the best way to inspire others is to lead by example.

Traits of Effective Managers

Managing people is a necessary skill to succeed in IT, but it works best on things we already know how to do well. Management is about structure, performing the day-to-day functions that keep the company moving in the right direction.

Managing people often means towing the company line, doing what's expected on time and within the budget, coordinating resources and planning. According to our experts, there is a lot of commonality between leadership and management traits, but here are the skills they call out as being required to be a successful manager.

 

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