IT departments have gone through a massive transformation in recent years. Their priority is no longer keeping computer systems up and running. There is a drive for technology to deliver added value, an increasing need to strengthen cyber security and the requirement to improve business effectiveness and ultimately performance. IT departments are rising up through supportive functions and are becoming an integrated aspect of the organisation’s business strategy.
This new mission brings a challenge to IT leaders who have by default operated from their heads rather than seek to engage others at a heart level. The old IT priority was to solve technology problems and get technology operating well. The ability to have great people skills seemed irrelevant when all focus was on IT function. But with the increasing role that technology plays within an organisation’s success they are being called to up their game in areas where many IT leaders and IT professionals bravely admit is outside of their comfort zone. Often IT can envision solutions that would work well for the business yet their struggle to communicate their vision using everyday business language in a way that is compelling often meets with resistance. It must appear to IT professionals that they are speaking an ‘Alien’ language and are consequently viewed by the rest of the business as disruptive, difficult and hard to work with. Little wonder that IT professionals are becoming increasingly defensive as they struggle to engage with the rest of the business. In front of a computer they feel in flow and perform well yet their ‘superbrains’ now have to figure out the overwhelming challenge of human emotions and what must seem like illogical behaviours from others. This often flips them into a survival mindset where they default to using more ‘techy speak’. This spirals into more resistance and push-back from other parts of the business so they are left feeling even more isolated and feel deeply undervalued.
Perceived as technical wizards with enough brainpower to keep the Blackpool lights flashing continuously, they experience an ongoing struggle with building relationships with people who don’t think like they do. The whole theory behind emotions and understanding others is extremely tough when technology has been their cerebral master for years. Perceived as silos and not team players, IT departments are often viewed suspiciously by the rest of the business causing a wall that divides ‘them and us’.
As with any challenge, there lies a hidden advantage for organisations.
- Imagine if IT leaders were authentically charismatic?
- Imagine if IT leaders were able to build high levels of engagement within their teams so that they achieved even higher performance standards for the organisation.
- Imagine if IT leaders were imbued with the same people skills as those traditionally associated with ‘compassionate and caring’ HR people and ‘passionate and persuasive’ sales departments?
According to Harvard Business Review, charismatic leaders are 68% more effective and build higher levels of workforce engagement. But mention ‘charisma’ to most IT leaders and they’ll typically recoil in horror at the thought of having to ‘shout and show off’. This misconception about what charisma is creates a negative response from many ‘left-brain dominant’ individuals. Yet in the thirty years I have devoted to studying charisma I have collated and measured the numerous advantages that authentic charisma gives to leaders. Charisma enables the individual to access the highest functioning, highest performing aspect of who they are. It is an authentic power that captivates the hearts and minds of others. Ultimately everyone, including those leaders operating within an IT function possess an ability to re-connect with their own authentic charisma. Regardless of whether that individual is extravert or introvert, when a leader has the confidence to access their emotions and become more heart centric they experience a heightened ability to influence others.
Paul Davies, Executive Director of Business and Technology is an experienced strategy and transformational leader who coaches, mentors and advises IT leaders. He believes that many IT leaders have suppressed their connection with their heart because it feels threatening to change change their internal programming that has worked well for years. Paul believes that by creating a safe environment for the IT leader to explore their innate charisma builds higher levels of Emotional Intelligence and transforms their capability into engaging leaders that can truly influence and guide the business to higher levels of success.
According to Paul “Today’s ambitious IT leader needs more than high levels of technical competence because they hold within their capability the opportunity to work collaboratively to support the organisation’s vision. But they can’t do this without developing strong people skills and the ability to inspire and influence others not just within IT functions but across the business.”
Against the economic backdrop of uncertainty this places even greater demands on organisations to become better and faster at what they do. Technology is vital for accelerating success and IT leaders hold a real power to help leverage and accelerate that business success. But to do so requires a complete transformation in their mindset and a degree of personal presence that will shift unhelpful perceptions from other departments so that technology is perceived as inspiring and life changing.
If you are an IT leader and interested in learning more about how you can develop your own authentic presence please contact Paul Davies, Accredited Charisma Coach for IT Leaders.
T: + 44 (0)7766 995444 E:Paul@inspire4change.com