16 Traits of Great IT Leaders

If you want to succeed as an IT leader you have to develop a set of traits that will serve you and those around you. Industry leaders and career experts share their thoughts on what behaviors make an IT leader great.

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They Are Empathetic

A great leader has to be able to metaphorically put himself/herself in others people places to understand their point of view. Doing so will give you a deeper connection into both your employee's and customer's needs.

"Empathy is like walking in someone else's shoes and understanding what the root cause is to get to the heart of the problem instead of just providing band-aid solutions. This allows us to provide a solution that has true value to the organization," says Brodie.

They Know Their Customers

"You've really got to have the mindset that everyone is a customer," says Reeg. That means whether you're providing an internal tool to the marketing department or building a customer-facing mobile app, you've got to understand what your customers need and what they expect.

Hewes agrees. "Not doing this well is an issue that has been around for decades -- usually stated in terms like, "IT just doesn't understand what we need." Listening and understanding what an internal or external customer actually needs is the trick. Listening and understanding customers should be a well-honed capability that a leader exhibits and gets his or her organization to exhibit."

They Think Strategically

As a leader in IT, people will look to you to figure out how technology can help solve problems and help the business grow. In order to do that, you've got to know about more than just the technology. You've got to understand customer needs, the market, the competition and more.

"A great leader always needs to have the bigger picture in mind and keep an eye on the overall mission, vision and objectives. Aligning IT with the enterprise's objectives and strategies helps create value and trust in information systems, while achieving the overall goals," says Boardman.

They Know Their Leadership Style

Leadership style sets the tone and influences behavior that workers are going to imitate. A bad leader can cause your organization to suffer long after they are gone.

"We can all name incredible leaders who were known for their individual style -- Jack Welch, Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Ronald Reagan, etc. Some people were outgoing and charismatic, others were straight shooters, laser focused, whatever. The point is, they not only knew their personal style, but they knew how to use it to help others be successful. For me, that's the key. It's not just about how to use my style to make me successful, but how I use my style to help others achieve their goals," says Rucker.

Copyright © 2013 IDG Communications, Inc.

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