Puzzling IT Leadership

exec coaching
Posted under: Executive Coaching From the Blog 4th of December, 2013

So how do we go about coaching for effective leadership behaviour in our leading technology people?

We need them out of their physical and mental data centres, and involved in the fluid development of strategy as key contributors in the wider multi-disciplinary leadership group

Generally I find technology folk too readily retreating to their techno comfort zone, in language, relationships and space. Their skin is generally too thin and they bruise easily with politics. Their interpersonal skills are often not as well developed as those of their peers from other disciplines, except perhaps accounting. Lawyers, marketing, HR and other leaders show sporadic interest in IT, and this is often reflected in a passive-aggressive IT department without good engagement.

I’ve tried all sorts of interventions in leadership development over the years, with some success – academies, mentors, service immersion and rotation programs, cultural development activities. Success was amplified in the context of some form of structured personal performance development review.

There is a serious lack of urgency in many IT professionals on this matter; a kind of blind denial that they really need to be part of the business. In reality, many are nomads who will pack up and move on if the business they are in does not give them the scope to pursue their technical interests.

I have found a challenge metaphor useful to engage the technologist’s problem-solving psyche – for example building business networks as a purposeful social engineering challenge. It’s about helping them to value the expression of their technology capability in the business, more than they value the technology per se.

IT Leadership is a puzzle to be solved.

Interested in your thoughts.


Neil Thelander

December 2013


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