How to be a Successful IT Leader in 2021 and Beyond

Apr 12, 2021 | Tips and Best Practices

As a leader in information technology, you can count on one timeless truth—nothing stays the same for very long. IT is a fast-moving sector full of quick advancements and new ideas, and if you’re an IT leader, it’s crucial that you stay ahead of those changes. In addition to developing your own personal understanding, you probably have a team or group of employees relying on you for direction about best practices and process improvements.

With that in mind, what does it take to be a successful IT leader? Beyond simply developing your own success, what does it mean to apply your expertise to the strategic initiatives at your company? This might include big-picture planning in areas like data privacy, security, and collection.

You may have seen our recent webinar on how to be a successful IT leader, but if you want to broaden your knowledge, this post will take those principles one step further.

Begin with your end goal in mind

Before you start to learn what it means to become a successful IT leader (especially in the realm of data collection), it’s important to have an end goal in mind. If you don’t have an overarching vision of where you and your IT team are headed, it may prove difficult to handle the changes and challenges you’ll likely encounter.

As a leader in enterprise data collection, FormAssembly has seen firsthand what it means for IT leaders to nurture, strengthen, and improve existing business processes. Based on our experience with thousands of global customers in different industries, we’ve developed a list of the top actions that strong IT leaders maintain on a regular basis.

Eliminate data silos

According to Hubspot, a data silo is defined as “a group of raw data that is accessible by one department but isolated from the rest of that organization.” As an IT leader, data silos can cripple your best efforts to maintain transparency and productivity.

Effective IT leaders always understand the place of information technology in the business model as a whole, and they are diligent about maintaining openness. Here are a few questions to ask in order to test whether data silos are wedged in place at your organization:

  • Do all team members know what makes customers and clients happy?
  • Are pain points erupting due to a lack of transparency across departments?
  • What barriers exist when it comes to accessing information that another team owns?
  • How collaborative or equal is security training across all departments?

Protect remote work environments

Although the COVID-19 pandemic has given rise to an increase in remote work opportunities worldwide, strong IT leaders recognize the potential pitfalls and threats. Remote organizations are at an increased risk of security breaches and other privacy issues, so it’s critical for good IT leaders to stay diligent.

To improve your IT leadership as it relates to remote work, you can:

  • Offer and develop a thorough security training program for all employees
  • Educate members of the organization on threats like phishing and malware
  • Encourage and enforce proper WiFi and VPN usage from remote locations
  • Monitor personal and mobile devices that are used for business purposes

Remember, protecting your team from IT threats and breaches starts from the top down. Always model the behaviors and habits that your team members should follow.

Support and strengthen your IT team

The world of IT is much more than computers and data–it’s also about people. No matter what takes place on a given day, your most valuable assets are individuals. This can include your customers or stakeholders, but it’s especially true of your own team.

A strong IT leader is one who can select the right talent for the right jobs. Filling team vacancies with people who can be trusted to perform with integrity and skill is vital.

Additionally, you must have a keen awareness of your team’s strengths and weaknesses. You should be able to keep a pulse on your IT team’s objectives, while maintaining flexibility. It’s also important that you’re willing to be empathetic, receptive, and teachable when approached with problems or with unique ways to solve common challenges.

Communicate the path to growth

Do you know what it takes to motivate others? In World Class IT: Why Businesses Succeed When IT Triumphs, author Peter High states, “What’s really important in motivating people or truly leading people is having an appropriate vision.”

Although you might receive directives from executive leadership or upper management, how are you proactive in communicating the growth plan to your IT team? This could look like:

  • Defining notable KPIs on a monthly or quarterly basis
  • Connecting team goals to the broader company mission
  • Checking in and providing motivation as team members work toward specific metrics

As a leader, don’t shy away from casting the vision. Even if it simply means drilling down on how your organization will approach data collection in a new year, for instance, articulate these changes with clarity. When you answer the “Why?” behind a particular change, you’ll find a renewed excitement on the part of your team members.

Stay aware of the cybersecurity landscape

Every year brings its own cybersecurity challenges, and it’s unlikely that those who wish to do harm will back down anytime soon. Your organization’s integrity relies on your awareness of cybersecurity threats such as:

  • Phishing attacks
  • Social engineering
  • Malware
  • Ransomware

The good news is that not all cybersecurity changes are negative. In fact, the many advancements and rapidly changing technology make cybersecurity an exciting field to be a part of. It’s the perfect time to brush up on your knowledge of digital automation and advanced platforms that provide innovative solutions.

Never procrastinate on compliance

How can you ensure longevity as an IT leader? One strategy for continued success is to stay aware of new regulatory guidance. In our modern data landscape, laws like GDPR and CCPA are continuously changing how companies collect, handle, and process data.

In your IT leadership role, you must take these compliance measures seriously. Failure to do so could result in steep fines, legal action, and much worse. As part of your ongoing responsibilities, take time to develop strategies on how to stay accountable.

Once you have those strategies in place, communicate them clearly to your IT department and team. The more that you can educate yourself and others on what’s happening, the easier it will be to maintain long-term compliance.

Choose the right solutions

It’s often said that the worst software is the kind you never use. Don’t make the mistake of choosing bulky, cumbersome tech solutions for your growing company or team.

If you’ve been tasked with finding services that meet your goals, budget, and security needs, it’s time to find something streamlined and effective. Choosing a platform like FormAssembly that empowers individual users while saving time and effort for the IT department as a whole is a win-win. With powerful integrations, you’ll also be able to accomplish more in less time, while eliminating the need for manual and costly processes.

Take action today!

Are you excited to develop your IT leadership skills this year? At FormAssembly, we’re cheering you on. That’s why we’ve developed trustworthy resources like our checklist, 14 Questions to Use When Evaluating Your Data Collection Software. Snag your copy below and start making the best software decisions for your organization today.

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