It’s showtime for IT leadership training .
IT Leaders are the new kids on the block. The exceptional expansion of modern information and digital technologies within and across organisations has occurred within the last two decades. Not surprising that many IT leadership training and development courses are failing to deliver sustainable business results.
In the ‘new’ world of IT, effective IT leadership is dependent on a number of fundamental elements, most of which have little to do with technology, or even the capabilities of the incumbent CIO. These may include:
- The culture and structure of the organisation, and in particular, how the the IT department is structured within the organisation. For example, the IT leadership competencies for IT organised under a global, hybrid / matrix structure reporting to the CEOs is different to a local business where IT reports to the CFO, and cost and system reliability are the only measures of the value of IT to the business.
- The IT maturity of the ‘C-suite’ in their collective appreciation of the intrinsic business value of digital technologies. This extends far beyond so called ‘digital literacy‘. For example, it is far more important for company directors to appreciate how modern technologies can help their business grow and thrive, than it is to know how to use an iPad. If enterprise IT is structures and constrained within a centralised shared services model, how can IT drive breakthrough innovation? That’s not ‘service’ – that’s exploiting and driving business value!
- The intrinsic competencies and personal traits of the individual leader that is appropriate for the context and maturity of the organisation at the time. For example, a ‘turnaround’ leader requires substantially different skills to that of a mature, established and large organisation that is relatively immune to change, or even a ‘start-up’.
The ‘new world of IT’. Can I attend training ?
The fact remains that the contemporary demands placed on any IT executive, manager or team leader are different from those of previous decades. These include:
- Compression of time. We are expected to make decisions, deliver results in a world that demands immediacy. Minimum viable product, time to market, customer expectations, globalisation and ‘follow-the-sun’ team collaboration are the hallmark of many industries and organisations.
- Increasing inter-connectedness within and across organisations. The days of individual departments or business units within organisations operating with relative autonomy are increasingly a thing of the past. For those organisations that are extracting real business value from cross-functional collaboration that cuts across hierarchies and silos recognise this fact all too well.
- Fragmentation of the employment landscape. The ability to build long term, trusted relationships between employees and their managers within organisations are eroded with the shift to fixed terms contracts, outsourcing, contracting or a revolving door of consultants.
- Rate of technology change. While factors such as big data, mobility, cloud computing and low cost, publicly available compute and storage all have the potential to redefine IT’s value for businesses, many organisations are still struggling to fully realise the upside business potential of these technologies.
Those organisations that recognise their changing environments by honing their situational awareness, will be better able to exploit the new opportunities.
A critical success factor for achieving this is the organisation’s leadership capabilities. Period.
Can Leadership Training help bridge the gap?
Independent, global research1 suggests that the conventional leadership training approaches are failing to meet the demands of a rapidly changing, increasingly uncertain world which is increasingly and absolutely dependent on IT and Digital technologies.
Added to this challenge is the fact that Executive Digital Literacy is a recognised challenge facing many established organisations. If the Executives and Boards of organisations cannot appreciate how modern technologies are able to drive sustainable business value with known cost and known risk
IT leadership: Importance without influence?
According to the latest research from McKinsey, a significant majority of today’s IT departments play no active role in shaping the overall business strategy or in growing the business. More pointedly, business executives’ perceptions of enterprise IT’s performance remains largely negative.
The reality is that many IT functions are struggling to keep up with their own organisation’s demands, let alone positively contribute to the growth of the business.
Why is there this disconnect?
Recognise that technical skills and industry knowledge alone do not automatically always translate into effective IT leadership.
There’s a compelling business case for transforming IT from a reactive technical service centre into a high-value, proactive and strategic enabler for the entire organisation. This business case hinges on effective, engaging and contemporary IT leadership capabilities.
Question is: What value do your organisation’s owners and directors place on any investment made – if any – in updating their IT and business leadership’s capabilities?
1 Gurdjian, P., et.al., (2014), “Why leadership-development programs fail.”, McKinsey Quarterly, January 2014. Also: Rahman, A., et.al., (2013),”Training and organiza onal eff ec veness: modera ng role of knowledge management process”, European Journal of Training and Development, Vol.37 Iss 5.