Ability to merge business and technology strategy is essential

IT leaders reveal their most important management skills

IT leaders reveal their most important management skills

The ability to integrate business and IT strategy is an "essential" skill for IT managers, according to a poll of IT leaders by the British Computer Society.

Strategy integration was identified as a key skill for IT bosses by 93% of members from the BCS Effective Leadership in IT (Elite) group in a survey on management competency by the BCS and Henley Management College.

Change leadership was also seen as an important skill, along with people development and programme management. When the Elite members were asked about professional competence, IT policy and strategy was cited as most essential, followed by service delivery and skills development.

It was also thought that IT and business integration was equally important for IT managers in their careers. When asked what factors had contributed most to their career progression, 78% of IT leaders mentioned strong IT experiences and 74% said strong business experiences, with 67% also mentioning cultural fit in their organisations.

These responses were ranked ahead of training (28%), academic qualifications (26%) and career planning (15%).

The top priority for the chief executive and senior management was seen to be getting value for money from IT (70%). This was followed by using IT to improve business efficiency (69%) and then IT performance and continuity (65%).

The respondents felt senior management were less concerned about exploiting IT more effectively than competitors (22%), or about security (33%).

When asked what qualities were needed for success, leadership came top with 81% voting it essential. This was followed by communication skills (70%), influencing skills (65%), professionalism (54%), drive and resilience (54%), and integrity (54%).

Much lower on the scale were intellectual capacity (28%) and pragmatism (26%). Being a team player at this level was rated as essential by only 24%.

Follow-up case studies on essential management skills have been carried out by Sharm Manwani of Henley Management College with a leading international oil company and a UK charity. The results from the case studies confirm and expand on the findings from the BCS survey. The results will be presented at a conference by the BCS and Henley Management College later this year.

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