Communication skills will take you to the top

Most analysts agree that business, interpersonal and communications skills are the areas on which IT directors need to focus to...

Most analysts agree that business, interpersonal and communications skills are the areas on which IT directors need to focus to get to the top.

"Top IT directors are definitely increasing their influence on the business and talking the language of the business," said Sharm Manwani, head of information management at Henley Management College.

"Some IT directors are being asked to lead business change programmes of which IT is just one part. There is increasing recognition of the need for professional skills, so it is not just about technology, but about how to manage the technical environment. The final bit is the need for leadership and communications."

Rob Lambert, senior lecturer at the Cranfield School of Management, said IT directors need to be able to persuade, influence and understand their business colleagues to succeed and, although these skills may not be natural to those with a technical background, they can be developed.

Research by analyst firm Gartner into relationships between chief information officers and chief executives emphasised risk-taking.

"CIOs, by nature, are practical, closure-oriented and conservative," said Dave Aron, Gartner research director. "But when they talk to the business, they need to talk about the big picture, evangelise and be future-oriented."

"They need to change from focusing on tasks to relationships, from managing to leadership, from control to influencing and from IT to business knowledge."

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