It can be difficult to recognize the spark of true leadership potential in a new candidate, particularly in an industry as technical as IT. But there are a number of key indicators that can clue you in to the fact that your IT candidate might be a great leader of people, rather than simply a manager of people. This article will discuss the difference between a manager and a true leader, and how to know if an IT candidate fits into the leadership role.
Strong Leaders Exhibit Certain Qualities That Managers Do Not
Leaders are professionals who not only lead, but inspire their peers. Honesty and integrity are crucial to building loyalty and motivation of a team. Having a clear vision and inspiration of big-picture goals while executing on that mission are hallmarks of a true leader. The ability to challenge and inspire a team to think outside the box and work toward a common goal is a good sign that your candidate is made of strong leadership material. Innovative thinking and collaborative communication are two other qualities that leaders of the IT profession exhibit far more than their manager peers.
A great way to evaluate the leadership skills of a candidate is to ask them in an interview setting to describe a situation where they showed leadership. Their response will tell you quite clearly whether they understand what true leadership is and how they have been able to implement it in their past work experiences.
Managers are Focused on Day-to-Day Efforts, Rather than Big-Picture Strategies
Commonly shared traits by managers include being able to direct a team to follow strategic direction by breaking it down into smaller tasks. Directing day-to-day work efforts and anticipating needs, following through on commitments, and problem solving are all great qualities in an IT professional, but they are not necessarily signs of true leadership qualities. A focus on processes, standards, operating procedures, rules, and people show a proficiency for management. They are good qualities to be sure, but if you are looking for a candidate with high-level leadership potential, they might not be your best option.
Understanding How Leadership and Management Work Together
A successful business model is supported by both strong leadership and strong management, as these two professional types are necessary for a balanced approach to business. Leadership and management must work hand-in-hand towards a common goal. Where a leader innovates, a manager is asked to administer, and as a leader develops new ideas and processes, a manager maintains processes and efficiency. As many workers, particularly in the IT industry, are recognized more and more on an individual level, leadership skills are in demand to rally and inspire creative thinkers to working toward a shared idea. Not everyone is a natural leader. Learning to identify the key qualities that separate the leaders from the managers can ensure you hire the right professional for your job opening.