As noted in Part one of this series,
survival as an IT executive in the late 1990's has become an even greater
challenge. More complex technical environments, more sophisticated end users,
and soaring business expectations all have made the job of an IT executive
Recently, our local Austin AITP
Chapter invited Ray Bender, a nationally known IT executive researcher and
consultant from the Gartner Group, to speak
to our meeting regarding IT executive survival. I had the good fortune of
attending Ray's excellent presentation.
This second part of the series will be a discussion of IT executive
success traits and important survival action steps. These points were taken from
a Gartner Group study referenced by Ray during his presentation. Below each
bullet point I have added my own personal observations and opinions. These do
not reflect Ray's statements at the meeting.
Ray's first slide on this topic presented a long list of traits which
Gartner found to be important for a successful IT executive to possess.
According to Ray, an IT executive should be:
I am finding that the IT profession presents new and
unique challenges daily. One challenge is the fact that rapid business evolution
is requiring more innovative thinking. Another challenge is that posed by new
opportunities resulting from quickening technology advancement. Turning this
flood of changing business processes and supporting technology into an optimum
IT strategy requires careful thinking and focused creativity at the IT
An IT executive is at the focal point of many
competing ideas, demands, and agendas. Balancing all of these competitive
priorities clearly requires cautious fexibility and a healthy dose of
An open minded listening ability is an essential
quality for IT executive survival. Ideas and suggestions from the IT staff or
from the business various areas should be given respectful and considered
attention. In addition, an open minded approach encourages others to share new
insights, ideas, and criticism. This insures a more complete information
viewpoint for quality decision making.
An IT executive must be the voice of reason for the
IT department as well as for the greater company. In addition, he or she must
also be the primary calming influence during any times of crisis. Maturity and
experience count for quite a bit in this category.
This trait highlights the importance of meeting both
departmental and personal commitments. Enough said.
An IT organization is a service organization. It is
also a primary resource for solving business problems. The IT organization
should not be perceived as a source of issues and roadblocks. An important IT
executive trait is the demonstration of a positive, "we can do it" attitude
which reflects this mission.
The IT organization is responsible for the
electronic foundation of the company. The business expects that this foundation
is orderly and solid. The process for tracking requests, for executing projects,
and for building systems should reflect organization and inspire confidence. I
firmly believe that the IT executive's own personal organizational traits are
the starting point for this important organizational quality.
Another helpful slide that Ray shared with the group was this list of
recommended actions to further insure IT executive career survival:
- Never Panic
- Be an Active IT User
- Be a Politician
- Be Results Oriented
- Practice Constant Learning
- See the Big Picture
- Learn to Multi-task Effectively
- Display Energy
- Utilize Good Vendors
- Maintain Good Health