5 Traits Effective IT Leaders Need - InformationWeek
IT Leadership
07:06 AM
Dawn Kawamoto
Dawn Kawamoto

5 Traits Effective IT Leaders Need

When you consider outstanding tech leaders such as Bill Gates, the late Steve Jobs, and Jeff Bezos, five of their traits standout above others. Here's a look at ways to cultivate these characteristics to further your career.
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(Image: Pinkypills/iStockphoto)

(Image: Pinkypills/iStockphoto)

When IT pros were surveyed about which tech leaders they admire most, the list of names included Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos, and the late Steve Jobs. What are the characteristics that make these and other industry luminaries so revered?

The technology they created? The artful design they infused into function? The plethora of free food and other perks they doled out to employees? Turns out there are five characteristics that more than 8,000 IT workers surveyed in North America by Robert Half Technology pointed to as traits that are important for an IT leader to possess.

But often challenges crop up that prevent tech executives, managers, and team leaders from reaching such regarded heights.

"The most successful leaders are in touch with the needs of the organization and their team, but are also keenly aware of industry trends and factors that impact the tech industry as a whole," John Reed, senior executive director for Robert Half Technology, told InformationWeek.

"Things that can hold leaders back are ineffective relationships across the organization, being unaware of teams being understaffed, and lacking in innovation or unwillingness to change."

[See 9 Books Every IT Leader Needs to Read.]

Employees want to work for leaders who can collaborate effectively with other departments to meet business goals, but are also innovative, Reed said. Another desired trait of bosses is the willingness to implement changes quickly in order to create interesting work for tech professionals while helping give their organization a competitive edge, he added.

When they were asked to select their top three most admired tech leaders, survey respondents named:

  • 53% Bill Gates, Microsoft cofounder
  • 45% Steve Jobs, Apple cofounder
  • 31% Jeff Bezos, Amazon founder
  • 30% Larry Page, Alphabet CEO, and Alphabet/Google cofounder along with Sergey Brin
  • 22% Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook founder
  • 10% Susan Wojcicki, YouTube CEO
  • 7% Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook COO
  • 6% Marissa Mayer, Yahoo CEO

In assessing what all of these tech leaders have in common, Reed made several observations.

"These leaders are at some of the largest or most innovative organizations in the technology landscape. Each has an admirable story of coming into their roles or the way they started their careers, [and they] as well [...] have made contributions to the technology landscape in a way that shapes the way we work with and think of technology in our everyday lives," Reed said.

"Whether they've dropped out of college and become successful, developed their company at an early age, broken glass ceilings or broken the mold -- each of these leaders possesses qualities that are admirable for anyone working in technology."

For the survey, Robert Half asked respondents: "Which one of the following characteristics is most important for an IT leader to possess?" They included:

  • Trusts their employees and empowers them to make important decisions
  • Acts with honesty and integrity
  • Establishes a vision, is confident and believes they can make a difference
  • Radiates a positive attitude and inspires their employees
  • Innovates and pushes the envelope creatively

In the following pages, we delve into each of those character traits and then give you tips on how to cultivate each.

Dawn Kawamoto is an Associate Editor for Dark Reading, where she covers cybersecurity news and trends. She is an award-winning journalist who has written and edited technology, management, leadership, career, finance, and innovation stories for such publications as CNET's ... View Full Bio

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