Invest in leadership development to drive success in tech

Going beyond impacting profitability, investing in leadership development directly enhances the effectiveness of individual IT managers.
Angela de Longchamps
By Angela de Longchamps, Founder and CEO of Inspired Leadership.
Johannesburg, 15 Apr 2024
Angela de Longchamps, founder and CEO of Inspired Leadership.
Angela de Longchamps, founder and CEO of Inspired Leadership.

In the dynamic and competitive world of IT, strong leadership is no longer just a desirable quality; it's an absolute necessity. Today's IT managers are tasked with navigating a complex landscape of emerging technologies, new buzzwords, evolving customer demands and a workforce with high-demand skills.

They must inspire and motivate their teams to adapt, innovate and deliver high-quality solutions in a stressful and rapidly-changing workplace, amid mandates and changes they need to support even if they disagree. In addition, most managers are navigating the hybrid workplace and trying to retain in-demand skills that are resistant to in-office work policies.

Most IT professionals selected IT precisely because it required working with things rather than people.

Managers are navigating unchartered waters, and most are promoted technical specialists who didn’t quite sign up for this complexity. Most technical managers specifically entered the IT industry to avoid having to deal with people.

Beyond qualitative gains

Equipping managers with the human skills to do their managerial role well extends far beyond qualitative measures like improved employee morale and team satisfaction. Numerous studies have established a direct link between effective leadership and increased profitability in the IT industry.

A study by IDC revealed that companies with strong leadership development programmes experienced a 19% increase in revenue growth compared to those with weak programmes.

Research by Gartner found that organisations with highly-engaged IT teams, fostered by effective leadership, enjoyed a 20% reduction in IT project failure rates.

This financial gain can be attributed to several key factors:

Enhanced employee engagement: Effective IT leaders foster a positive and supportive work environment, leading to increased employee engagement and retention. This translates to higher productivity, reduced talent acquisition costs and lower turnover, ultimately boosting the bottom line.

Improved decision-making: Well-trained IT leaders possess strong critical thinking and problem-solving skills, enabling them to make strategic decisions regarding technology investments, project management and resource allocation. This leads to reduced risks, improved efficiency and cost savings.

Driving innovation and growth: Effective managers with leadership skills cultivate a culture of innovation and creativity, encouraging their IT teams to develop new solutions, explore emerging technologies and stay ahead of the curve. This fosters competitive advantage, market expansion and revenue growth. One of the key insights from the work we do with managers is that most managers realise what poor listeners they are. Imagine enhancing organisational listening skills… think about the ideas that are currently ignored because of poor listening.

Empowering IT managers for success

Investing in leadership development goes beyond impacting organisational profitability. It directly enhances the capabilities and effectiveness of individual IT managers:

Strengthened communication: Effective communication is crucial for clear project direction, fostering collaboration across diverse teams and ensuring smooth client interaction. Leadership development programmes can equip IT managers with the necessary communication skills, enabling them to articulate complex technical concepts, provide constructive feedback and actively listen to their team members. While many IT professionals might be excellent at writing code, often their verbal and interpersonal communication skills are weak.

Enhanced coaching and development: Effective IT leaders act as coaches and mentors, guiding and supporting their team members in their professional development. Leadership development programmes can equip managers with the skills and knowledge to coach and develop their team members, fostering continuous learning, skill development and career growth within the organisation. Most experts who become managers struggle to make the transition from the comfortable position of do’er, to the unknown and uncomfortable position of leader. Letting go of what made them famous requires support and new skills.

Strategic thinking and problem-solving: In the fast-paced IT industry, adaptability and problem-solving are crucial skills. Leadership development programmes can equip IT managers with strategic thinking skills, enabling them to anticipate challenges, analyse complex situations and develop innovative solutions to overcome obstacles.

Emotional intelligence: This allows leaders to understand and manage their own emotions, as well as the emotions of others. Leadership development programmes can help IT leaders develop their emotional intelligence, enabling them to build trust and rapport with their teams, foster collaboration and create a positive and inclusive work environment that attracts and retains top talent. Most IT professionals selected IT precisely because it required working with things rather than people. But to grow one’s career in IT, it is essential to work effectively with others and these skills are often underdeveloped in technical professionals.

Investing in the future

Leadership development isn't just a feel-good practice; it's a powerful tool for achieving financial success and an empowered workforce.

The skills developed through effective leadership development programmes ripple outwards, benefitting not only the organisation but also individuals in their personal capacity: because better leaders, make better people.

In today's fiercely competitive talent market, investing in people’s growth isn't just the right thing to do, it's a strategic move to attract, retain and unleash the full potential of your most valuable asset: your people.

Further reading and references: