What Distinguishes IT Leaders from IT Managers?

What Distinguishes IT Leaders from IT Managers?

Companies can employ successful IT managers who deliver results, find efficiencies, and maintain security. But what distinguishes IT managers from true IT leaders?

IT leaders have the ability to influence their colleagues and clients and build a sense of trust and  teamwork. At InfoSystems, Fred Cobb, Executive Vice President and Chief Information Security Officer, finds that true IT leaders all share one trait that separates them from typical IT managers: enthusiasm. 

“IT leaders display competent, consistent, and contagious enthusiasm and passion for the day-to-day work of all team members,” Cobb says. 

That enthusiasm and passion for team member contributions and consistent work plays out across the team in a few ways, according to Cobb:

  • Passionate leaders foster multiple levels of communication that each team member can hear, observe, and feel. 
  • With enthusiasm, leaders convey their concern and care for each team member. “It’s crucial for leaders to support each individual while simultaneously guiding a team as a cohesive unit and keeping their focus on the long-term vision,” Cobb says.
  • Leaders set an example by understanding and even actively participating in the work that has been asked of associates. This level of empathy and understanding builds trust and transparency among teams. “When leaders guide from the front and believe in what is being asked of all team members, they instill confidence in employees,” Cobb says. 

Uncovering Greatness

If you’re an IT manager seeking to take on more leadership roles, look to your past. Classic leadership traits most often come from earlier exposure in one’s career to one or more individuals who took the time to care, communicate, inspire, mentor, develop, and promote employees. This leader or mentor likely was able to deliver the good news with the bad news with calm competence.

“Leaders likely provided sound advice when an employee most needed it,” Cobb says. “Many leaders who have come up through the ranks can recall an individual who made a lasting impression on them.” 

Cobb also encourages IT associates who strive for leadership roles to look within themselves. IT covers a wide swath of knowledge and skills, which may be daunting. 

“Technically minded people who have risen to a leadership role and are self-aware can consciously work to develop competent, consistent, and contagious enthusiasm for all of the many challenges they and their teams may face,” Cobb says. 

After enthusiasm and passion, according to Cobb, the “honorable mention” for traits that distinguish leaders is strategic vision.

“Having a great leader who is also a competent tactical manager is a wonderful combination of skills,” he says. “It’s highly sought-after for an IT leader to lay out the clear strategy and have the tactical and execution skills that are often delegated to or associated with the manager’s role.”

Are you a current or aspiring IT professional looking for a great career with growth opportunities? InfoSystems is always looking for talented team members! Visit our Careers page to learn more.

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