The leap to leadership is a big one — especially in IT. That’s because the transition from IT expert to IT leader requires a significant shift in skills and a new mindset about the role technology plays in the business.
In becoming an IT leader, your technical knowledge still matters, but you’ll also need to develop a deeper understanding of the business side of the organization — and acquire the skills necessary to collaborate directly with other, non-technical leaders in the organization.
As Devon Valencia, CIO at CareSource, says: The transition to leadership can be a lot like learning a new language.
“You have to do a lot of listening in that first transition to really understand,” she says. “What are the norms? What do people expect? What are they talking about? At every level [in the organization], the conversation, the focus, the priorities, and the discussions should be different. It does take a little bit of time to let go of what you’re comfortable with and get comfortable with the new priorities.”
That process of letting go and learning anew can be profound, leading to a fundamentally altered approach to your work, says Sue-Jean Lin, senior vice president and CIO at Alcon.