by C.G. Lynch

Three Traits the 21st Century Technology Manager Must Have

Apr 08, 2008 2 mins

Kathy Harris, a Gartner analyst, told a room full of IT managers and CIOs attending the Gartner Symposium in Las Vegas today that 60 percent of them lack the management skills required for a leader in the 21st century workplace and urged them to embrace new technologies (and the workers who have grown up using them).

Here’s what I thought were the three most vital traits she cited for the 21st century manager:

1. Experience (and use) new pieces of technology

Too often, managers set up an adversarial, “us versus them” mentality in their organizations by blocking every new piece of technology under the sun. While IT managers do need to worry about security and other parts of their organizations’ intellectual property, it’s vital that they show they’re fellow managers (and their reports) that they understand what’s going on. “Do you need to have every new thing?” asks Harris. “No. But you do need to be in sync with what’s going on. Anticipate and lead change in areas of social technology.”

2) Hire someone who isn’t like you.

The 21st century manager must look at diversity in his or her workplace differently. In the past, diversity was viewed in basic terms, such as someone’s cultural, gender and national origin. Now, it includes things such as geographic location, a person’s digital orientation, thinking styles, and economic growth. Of the latter category, the digital orientation can be of particular importance to a CIO, who might be inclined to hire someone who shares his or her value for command-and-control over corporate systems, rather than a willingness to explore new social technologies. “If you want to learn and change, it’s better to look for someone who might be the opposite of you rather than someone is like you,” Harris says.

3) Demand outcomes, not hours

In the traditional command-and-control workplace, people are expected to work eight hours a day and work under a strict set of systems and processes. A more open workplace that encourages horizontal sharing relies on creating solutions more organically. As a result, managers should set goals, and let users work their way to those goals collectively and help facilitate any needs they might have along the way.