Common Characteristics of Top IT Leaders

Rich Hein of IT News recently discussed the characteristics of successful IT leaders. Certain challenges are unique to the field of information technology. The IT field is a highly competitive, dynamic industry and leaders are required to navigate unexplored territory such as cutting edge innovation.

Excellent listening and communication skills are the core traits of any leader, but IT also requires other elements. Familiarity with business risk and security threats is required, and the balance between investment in security and available resources is a constant dilemma. IT News describes the characteristics that top IT leaders exhibit.

  • IT leaders understand that their personnel are key. No one person has a complete skill set and human resources must be carefully managed to ensure adequate abilities and a team dynamic. Cutting edge coders are as important as purchasing officers. Organizational culture is determined by the leadership style.
  • Few industries experience constant threats in terms of competition, but also cyber and privacy threats. A leader must balance the need to invest in new security technology with a willingness to take risks. There must be room for failure in terms of innovative efforts. Progress requires failure and employees must be provided the opportunity for mistakes to achieve innovation.
  • Adhering to regulations and managing legacy issues can be frustrating but necessary. A leader must be prepared to take on all challenges, be self-aware, be willing to admit mistakes, and to realize personal weaknesses. A leader must be willing to delegate, to be personally accountable, and to hold others accountable.


Emotional intelligence is a leadership requirement and is more important than IQ. It involves being able to process the environment, take an objective stance, and to respond appropriately in every situation. While nobody is perfect, flexibility is vital. Mistakes will be made, but a leader can admit them, learn from them, and move on.


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