7. Leadership thrives on diversity.
A true story helps make the case for diversity of opinion. A major retailer tasked the IT group to report on conversion ratio -- that is, how many people entering a store purchase something. IT began brainstorming traditional IT solutions - complicated, highly automated, and expensive.
8. Leadership comes from continuous communication.
The ability to lead and embrace these traits requires communications skills. A leader does not need superior presentation skills, but he or she does need person-to-person verbal and non-verbal communications. This is counter-intuitive, but to present your ideas requires that you listen. To understand and accept the ideas of others requires that you talk. Many never develop these skills, but all leaders are masters of face-to-face communications.
You can lead a team of equals, you can lead a team of superiors, and you can lead a team of subordinates. Leader is a title given to you by those whom you follow and serve. They see you as a leader when you pay attention to their needs. By listening to their needs and addressing their issues, you demonstrate leadership.
Anyone can improve his or her leadership skills. Leadership comes from a desire to succeed and the realization that your success comes from what others do on your behalf of their own free will - because they trust you and want to follow you. To be a leader you have to understand this indirect linkage.
If you are an IT leader or manager and any of these suggestions rings true to you, then go take a course on leadership. Have your management style evaluated. Hire a consultant to explain the effect it has on your customers, company and team. You will probably be surprised at what you learn. If you are not a CIO yet, then this is your roadmap.
Hank Marquis is director of IT Service Management Consulting at Enterprise Management Associates Inc., based in Boulder, Colo. Marquis has more than 25 years of hands-on experience in IT operations, management and IT governance and operational frameworks.