Transitioning From IT Professional to IT ManagerBy Guest Author Print
A move into management can lead to greater levels of future responsibility and contribution, but this transition is challenging. These tips can help IT pros.
Learn what it takes to be a great manager and leader in your specific area.
The information explosion in recent years is driving radical changes in many organizations. And with these changes, we are seeing many new types of management and leadership emerging. Some companies are moving away from bureaucratic, rigid forms of management toward approaches that enable greater autonomy and agility among professionals.
I’ve spoken with many engineering and high-technology leaders today who want to encourage their non-managerial employees to exercise leadership in their roles.
This raises a key point: While the terms “management” and “leadership” are often used interchangeably, they differ in complementary and important ways. Management, for example, serves the important function of providing stability and predictability. Leadership, on the other hand, helps organizations cope with change and uncertainty.
Being Effective at Both Management and Leadership
How can you as an IT professional evolve to become an effective manager and leader? First, you must learn what it takes to be effective at both. For example, if your IT projects need to be consistently “on budget, on time, and as specified”, then you need to learn the management skills that are needed to effectively deliver these types of outcomes.
If your group is experiencing uncertainty and change in its future, then you will need to identify the kinds of leadership skills that are needed to create new visions for your group’s future—and to build support among key stakeholders for these new visions. Every role in an organization will have unique demands in management and leadership, and the key is to identify these skills, which may or may not exist among the current ranks of management.
Building competency as a manager and leader is something that almost anyone can do. It’s one of the reasons that we are starting to see more colleges and engineering schools offer leadership education for technical and engineering professionals.
If you have the will and the expertise to become a manager, step up and prepare your own learning journey. The future of your company—and your own career—may rely on your leadership.
David Niño, Ph.D., co-director of the Engineering Leadership for Emerging Leadership course, is a senior lecturer in the Bernard M. Gordon-MIT Engineering Leadership Program, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he heads leadership education for graduate students across the Institute.
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