Prio 1: Understand the nature of our ever-changing environment

What the next generation of IT leaders will need

Rick Delgado

© Shutterstock / Jirsak

What makes an IT professional “adaptable”? In this article, Rock Delgado explains why we need adaptable leaders and why it’s important to hire talent that will be able to catch the vision and provide good support.

Last night I found myself in a conversation with a friend about how much the world has changed over the course of the last century. If you think about it, virtually every facet of human life has been turned upside down by the industrial and technological revolutions. Letters (now referred to as snail mail) have been replaced by email, texting and instant messaging.

Due to the vast availability of online resources, computer databases have all but replaced libraries, which are now in many cases mere vestiges of a bygone era. We can now keep track of our friends through social media, which has proven to be more effective than sending an annual Christmas card to old college roommates and family friends. Even the way we eat has completely changed. Fast and frozen food have streamlined the process of food preparation, making cooking/eating more convenient than ever. Finally, transportation has undergone a remarkable transformation. Cars and planes would have been unthinkable to those who drove a horse and buggy.

We need adaptable leaders

Along with the benefits of progress and new possibilities, these developments have also brought some unforeseen consequences. Air pollution, obesity, and cybercrime have all resulted from what we would otherwise consider to be progress. This past century has arguably seen more changes, monumental changes that fundamental impact the way we do everyday things than any other. And it won’t be slowing down anytime in the foreseeable future. In an era as volatile as this, we need leaders with vision and intuition – those who understand the nature of our ever-changing environment and are prepared to respond to it and thrive in it. In short, we need leaders who are adaptable.

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Speaking in terms of industry, if there is a sector within business that encounters changes that turn everything upside down on a frequent and regular basis, it is information technology. Thus, naturally, the need is felt in the IT sector for new leaders who can accommodate industry needs in the wake of a tornado of technological developments that seem to change everything. But how is that done? It sounds simple on paper, but what makes an IT professional “adaptable” in the sense that we are describing. Let’s consider some ways that the new generation of IT leaders can be adaptable and effective professionals.

Fine tune your find and motivate talent

Effectively running the IT division of an operation requires a certain degree of unity within the department or team. In other words, employees need to be able to “catch the vision” of their leader. If it is important for leaders to be able to sense what is on the industry’s horizon and adapt to it, ideally, employees will be able to sense and support with that.

That’s why it’s important to hire talent that will be able to catch the vision and provide good support as adaptable leaders lead the charge into unknown territory. If you have a feeling about the direction of the industry, hire employees who are resilient and will thrive in all kinds of environments. Perhaps you can’t quite put it into words. Just like it’s somewhat difficult to describe the “it” factor that makes a leader apt to recognize and respond to industry trends and directions, it is difficult to describe candidates who possess similar traits. Still, having this concept in mind during the talent acquisition process could lead to your department running more like a well-oiled machine.

Know the trends

Do what you can to have a hand on the pulse of IT, particularly the aspects that are most relevant to your specific role. Do your homework. It’s your job to know if hyperconverged infrastructure will better serve the needs of your company. It’s your job to know if it would be more prudent to upgrade or completely gut and rebuild your system.

There are a few different things you can do to help stay in the loop. You can always read up on what is going on. Subscribing to industry publications is always a good way to do this. You can also maintain a good network of professionals in roles similar to yours. Corresponding with other professionals and learning about what is being done in other companies may give you a fresh take on your own dilemmas or impending dilemmas.

Rick Delgado
Rick Delgado is a freelance technology writer and commentator. Connect with him on Twitter @ricknotdelgaldo.

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