What makes a great leader? There are nearly as many definitions as there are leaders in IT, but certain characteristics tend to stand out when you consider outstanding IT leaders. And if you’re aspiring to greatness as a leader in your field, emulating these characteristics will help you improve your own performance as well as your team’s — and place your career on the path to success.
Here are five tips that will help you understand what makes an outstanding leader, and how to implement best practices in your own leadership career to achieve greatness.
1. Communicate effectively
Do you assign tasks or projects to your team, only to find that the end results are far from what you had in mind when you implemented the project? Does your team ask you a lot of questions that you feel they should know the answers to? Are there frequent disagreements among your team about how, when, and with whom work should proceed? If these problems are present, you may have communication issues.
Great leaders are able to describe what they want done succinctly and clearly. The key to effective communication is considering not only what you’re saying, but how the people you’re addressing will receive your message. If you can’t communicate your vision, your team won’t be working toward the same goal — and the end results will suffer.
2. Embrace delegation
Some people in leadership positions subscribe to the philosophy that if you want something done right, you have to do it yourself. Unfortunately, this is the opposite of what leadership is all about — motivating and inspiring others to perform to the best of their abilities.
The ability to delegate is an essential quality for a great leader. You can’t do everything yourself — and you shouldn’t, because your team will suffer. Failure to delegate tasks (without micromanaging the implementation of the tasks you’ve assigned) demonstrates a lack of trust in your team, which leads to a breakdown of loyalty and motivation.
3. Generate confidence
Outstanding leaders know that confidence breeds confidence. This means remaining confident in the abilities of your team when things are going right — and when they’re going wrong. One small crisis can set off a chain reaction of issues and problems, especially in IT. If you react negatively to everything that goes wrong, you’ll create an atmosphere of uncertainty and doubt that will severely impact productivity.
Maintain a positive attitude, and remind everyone on your team — including yourself, if necessary — that setbacks are natural and expected. When you remain calm and confident through a crisis, you help to keep everyone on track and working toward the common goal.
4. Walk the walk
When making a distinction between bosses and leaders, it’s common to point out that bosses talk, but leaders walk. The very best leaders are those who lead by example — you can’t expect your team to turn in their best performances, unless you’re putting forth your best efforts too.
Commitment is a vital quality for outstanding leaders. You need to demonstrate through your actions that you’re committed to producing great work right along with the team — in other words, you need to be the person you want to lead.
5. Hone your sense of humor
One of the easiest ways to spot a great leader is to observe the workplace environment. Are the employees excited and engaged? Do they show up every day with a positive attitude, and look forward to tackling the challenges ahead? If this is the case, you’re sure to find a leader with a great sense of humor at the head of the team.
The ability to find humor in struggles and challenges can transform your work environment, creating a happy and healthy space that your team will enjoy coming to every day. Learn to laugh at yourself, even in the midst of crisis, and you’re well on your way to becoming an outstanding IT leader.
If you need more help distinguishing these characteristics in your management team, or yourself, contact the recruiting experts at The Armada Group today. We know what it takes to cultivate a strong leadership team, and have a wide talent network of top candidates who exhibit the five traits mentioned above.