Expert-level technology skills are no longer enough for those who aspire to IT management. Becoming an IT leader now requires a combination of skills in management and technology – including so-called “soft skills” that can make good leaders great.
Part of this change is driven by the increasing integration of IT into all business operations. Computer systems have become the backbone of businesses and government agencies. As a result, analytics, big data and statistics are taking a bigger role as business leaders migrate to data-driven decision models.
A quality Master of Science in Applied Information Technology degree program prepares graduates to take on complex but rewarding IT leadership roles. It’s a Professional Science Master’s degree that focuses on teaching students the latest theories and strategies in IT as well as application to real-world challenges.
IT Technology and Business Skills
Expertise in IT technology remains a key component in becoming an IT manager. Understanding the latest computer systems available for collecting, storing and analyzing data is key to the job. Other fundamental skills include expertise in:
When entering a specific industry, these skills are augmented by a complete understanding of the product or service the organization provides. IT managers also need to know the process by which products are created and distributed.
A fundamental understanding of the industry and how the specific business fits into the industry also are key. The same applies for those who lead IT for a nonprofit organization or government agency.
Business skills must also expand to include other areas. For example, the program at Montclair State University requires students to take classes in:
Information Technology Project Management
Software Process Management
Techniques of Communication
Taken together, mastering these technology and business skill areas makes for better managers. However, it doesn’t stop there for those who want to become successful IT leaders.
IT Soft Skills
Because of the integration of IT into all areas of an organization, IT managers now often work with those outside of IT. These people may not “speak the language” of information technology or understand either the potentials and the risks.
IT leaders must understand how to educate and guide these other decision-makers on the possibilities and potentials of IT. Those same skills also apply to leading an IT team or department.
Some of these skills include the following.
Communication is a skill that leaders in all areas need. Coming up with brilliant plans is important. Clearly and consistently communicating these plans to the right people is critical. Everyone works better when they understand and have bought into a plan.
Communication in IT can prove especially important in explaining the value and potential of IT to executives and investors. Just as importantly, clear communication helps IT leaders explain the insights found in data analysis.
This goes hand-in-hand with communication. The ability to create visual presentations that explain IT issues, including insights from data analysis, is key to working with members of other departments.
No sustainable change happens in isolation. Consequently, teamwork is key to success in IT. The ability to work well in collaboration requires honing your skills in communications, listening, empathy and openness to delegate and considering the advice of others.
These are some of the areas where soft skills can foster success for IT leaders. In modern organizations, IT leadership requires a combination of technology, business and soft skills. Earning a MS in Applied IT can offer the first step in realizing that goal.
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