The Threads that Bind: Five Key Traits of the Best Contemporary IT Leaders

Published: 7 September 2011

Through the industry press, media, new-media and twitter cloud, this is a much discussed topic. Matt Cockbill, Partner and Head of Technology Practice for Berwick Partners shares his thoughts on the key attributes of top talent at every level of the IT functions.

The best IT leaders stand out as different, they are on the inside of the key commercial decisions as an advisor, as an influencer, and as an equal.  This level of influence and access is no accident – it is inevitably hard fought.  While it may come easier to some than to others, irrespective of your place in the IT fundament there are some traits which interlace through high performers in all roles. Here’s our view on what they are: 

  • For one last time; there is no IT & ‘the business’. You are the business; live it. Make sure your teams live it. Share the vision so that they directly identify with the commercial contribution they make.
  • Never lose focus of the objective. Technology per se doesn’t matter. Outputs override inputs every time. Exactly what ‘it’ is, really is a secondary issue. It’s the tangible benefit that something or someone delivers for the enterprise that counts.
  • People are your primary asset, not your infrastructure. People deliver and relationships matter. Strong relationships and successful delivery are part of the same virtuous circle.
  • Innovation is a shared agenda and collaboration is a key factor in enabling of greater creativity. Take on the responsibility for doing things better, doing new things, don’t wait to be asked. Own the reality and the results.
  • The information agenda is undeniably enhanced by better communication. Good leadership is often underpinned by strong communication skills; it impacts people, process and technology.

Clearly the list of key traits of high performers could be extended endlessly and domain expertise clearly must partner up with these leadership traits to simply get a ticket to the game. Fundamentally, the difference between good and great is the ability to lead, influence, and deliver no matter where you sit within the IT function.

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