Many people traditionally commit to improving themselves personally and/or professionally at the start of a new year. If you are an IT leader, these five resolutions can help you become a stronger, more effective leader.
1. I am accountable for the culture of my workplace, and I will set an example with my actions.
Because you are in a leadership position, you have an obligation to develop a supportive workplace culture. An organization’s culture can provide insight into several things that can define its success or failure:
- How it operates
- How decisions are made
- How employees feel about their role
- How customers are treated
Technology is constantly evolving, so any change can impact every facet of an organization. To prevent frustration and confusion, IT leaders must be open and transparent about what to expect when a change in technology occurs.
[ Also read IT leadership: Lessons from the military. ]
First, build respect and trust within your own team. Rally them behind a shared objective and transform them into ambassadors of change. Second, be available for all-hands meetings and regularly share information at all levels within the organization to support an open and informed workplace culture.
With the rise in hybrid work environments and the many challenges remote work brings, it is important to ensure your remote workers feel like a part of the team. Having regular, meaningful conversations about work and non-work-related topics one-on-one with your employees shows that you care about what matters to them. By taking an interest in your employees, whether they work in the office or remotely at home, you will help foster a positive workplace culture of belonging.
2. I will be a business leader first.
IT leaders are business leaders. You may not always be aware of the expectations that others have of you as a leader – specifically, the expectation that you fully understand your organization and can discuss its business value, identify its processes, and resolve adoption and change management issues.
Commit to leading the business and empathetically consider the problems of your fellow leaders. To work together and find solutions to problems and issues, you must fully understand them.
You cannot focus solely on technology metrics like the number of tickets you’ve closed, the change requests you’ve released, or the availability of mission-critical systems. Conversations should also focus on the economic benefits of technology and holding yourself and other executives accountable for Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) and business impact.
3. I will meet at least one business user every week.
As an IT leader, you need to have an intimate understanding of your organization to understand the impact of your technology choices. As a personal KPI, commit to regularly meeting with employees at every level in your organization and external customers to discuss how your technology works for them.
This will give you a better understanding of your organization and enable you to handle issues proactively rather than reactively.
4. I will review my organization's quarterly results or annual reports to fully understand the financials of my business and where I can have an impact.
IT leaders should be aware of their organization’s overall financial performance metrics to understand their technology choices' impact better. This awareness becomes the starting point for investigating how technology solutions can potentially reduce operational costs for vital processes across the organization while simultaneously boosting productivity.
Constantly reviewing how your IT decisions impact your organization’s financial health shows proactive leadership.
5. I will emphasize and reward continuous learning.
The best way to future-proof your organization’s technology needs is to provide continuous learning for your employees. Start by determining current and future IT talent demands and identifying employees interested in reskilling/upskilling.
Next, create learning paths with defined milestones that match employees’ career goals (as long as they align with organizational needs). Whenever possible, an employee’s learning path should include gaining experience in cross-departmental/cross-functional assignments/roles to better understand departmental interconnectedness.
As employees travel their learning path, their progress should be a KPI for evaluation purposes which can help determine which internal candidates are qualified to fill pertinent job roles or be promoted to higher-level management/leadership positions.
An additional benefit of continuous learning is that employees are less likely to resign if they see their organization taking an active interest in helping them achieve their career goals.
Once you have decided which resolutions you are willing to commit to, write them down, incorporate them into your personal KPIs, business meetings, and employee interactions, and revisit them often. The more you invest in your resolutions, the more effective your leadership will become in the year ahead.
Happy New Year, and here’s to a successful year of personal and professional growth.
[ Leading CIOs are reimagining the nature of work while strengthening organizational resilience. Learn 4 key digital transformation leadership priorities in a new report from Harvard Business Review Analytic Services. ]