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How to Respond to a Growing Demand for IT Leadership Through Training Programs

You sit back and look out the office window. Another workday is almost over and you've been asking yourself the same question with no solution in sight. You could stare into the bottom of your coffee mug and ask it again but nothing comes. "Where can I find new IT leaders for coordinating my work teams?"

This is something that many middle-level managers and executives struggle with on a daily basis. They could be technology officers within large corporations or global IT firms; they could be working in government agencies or non-profit organizations; or they could be anywhere in the world and their boss has challenged them with developing new projects. Many of their workers are telecommuters. They are expected to make miracles happen, but they don't know where to find the talent to lead their work teams. The answer is often that they cannot wait for an outsourcing firm to provide them with new leadership talent. They must try harder to develop leaders from within their own organization.

The Background on Finding IT Leaders in Your Organization

If this is your current situation, you have two choices. The first is to lose more sleep tonight worrying about the lack of management talent in your division. The second is to come up with a training plan that develops people within your organization. The latter option is not that hard to implement when you work with an external training partner.

What Skills Do You Think Employees Will Need to Become Strong IT Leaders?

If you know the skills that successful managers have used to lead IT teams, write them down in one list. This could be a short list of the most essential supervisory skills (i.e. conflict resolution and negotiation skills) or they could include a longer list of managerial skills that extend beyond face-to-face interaction, including time management, writing skills, and presentation skills. You could take a long list of skills and later rank the items on it according to priority. Spend time considering the names of potential candidates within your division. Ask other managers for their suggestions. The people on this list could participate in the first version of your training program.

What Skills Do Employees Think They Need to Become IT leaders? 

It doesn't hurt to write a survey that asks potential candidates to describe the skills that they think they will need to become leaders. For example, they may know that they require further development in the area of emotional intelligence, which includes skills such as active listening and showing compassion, empathy, and understanding. Internal candidates already know what it is like to work in the company and have internalized its operating practices. You can target a new training program to address the skills that they lack. While you could get survey responses including a wide range of skills, it's possible to reduce this list. You can prioritize the leadership skills from most important to least important as it depends on your current organizational culture. You might have to research what other firms are doing to develop their IT leaders. It's easier to ask your training partner.

Think About How to Create Training Scenarios

When you lead an IT environment, your work teams often include people who collaborate on projects. Therefore, it's imperative that you work with a training partner to develop a new solution that allows them to develop skills in real-life or simulated scenarios. For example, you want to design a training component in which people collaborate in an IT project. A future leader must lead the team (even if it consists of other future leaders) and assume responsibility for the project's completion.

A training project could be something the company needs or wants, but it should include opportunities for future leaders to make decisions, to provide coaching, to fail and get corrective feedback from trainers, and then to try again. The more authentic a project-based learning component is, the more future leaders can get ready for their new roles.

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Velocity Knowledge

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