Oct 31 2006

10 Leadership Principles of IT

IT managers offer 10 leadership principles to help you reach the pinnacle of IT success.

The 10 leadership principles listed below are echoes from the field, expressing priorities often repeated by seasoned technology professionals. They also represent the thoughts of new generations of leaders in training.

1. Take the long view. “Thinking beyond next week” is critical, advises Larry Buchanan, administrator, Information Management & Technology, Arizona’s Peoria Unified School District. “Infrastructure and training take so long to develop that we need to think ahead; we need to plan for sustainability.”

2. Manage upward. John Scarinci, retiring coordinator of the District Technology Department, Cherry Hill Public Schools in New Jersey, says we must improve our ability “to communicate to the people who make the decisions, in order to get them on board for sustainability.”

3. Focus on results. “We need to focus more on results, not on the technology itself,” Peoria’s Buchanan adds.

4. Use technology effectively. “We must model for others how technology can support student achievement and our district’s mission,” says Kent Tamsen, director of technology, Technology and Information Services, Widefield School District #3 in Colorado.

5. Manage change more effectively. IT leaders must learn how to implement change, garner support from stakeholders and create positive momentum.

6. Embrace the political landscape. It is vital to “understand the political landscape, so that there are no surprises,” explains Gary Allen, executive director of technology, Amarillo Independent School District in Texas. Sara Lane, principal of Marlborough Middle School in Massachusetts, agrees. “We need to be better politicians and increase partnering with businesses in order to get more funds,” she says.

7. Improve staff skills. Allen hopes to “strengthen the communication skills” of his IT staff this year. He believes that will “make his office work more smoothly.”

8. Don’t sweat the small stuff. Leaders stress how important it is to focus on the most important matters.

9. Foster cultural proficiency. Many managers express the need to do a better job respecting cultural differences in supervising staff and understanding the needs of students.

10. Run effective meetings. Whether it involves starting on time, providing advance agendas or ensuring that information is relevant to all present, improving the quality of meetings rounds out our list of leadership principles.