The 5 Most Important Skills for Tech Leaders

December 4, 2023 | New Workplace Leadership | 5 min read

As an IT professional, you may be confident in your technical know-how, but if you’re looking to advance to the next level, you need more than just technical skills to succeed.

Over the past decades, technology has continued to evolve, bringing about new roles and responsibilities in the tech landscape. Due to the rapid changes in the industry, IT has matured from a supporting role to a strategic one, creating unique opportunities for advancement.

As new roles and responsibilities are making their way into the workplace, it is imperative that IT professionals are equipped with the skills to take on these new challenges.

In the past, technical skills may have been enough to get by. But today, the changing nature of the tech industry will continue stressing the importance of softer skills, like interpersonal communication, adaptability, and time management.

In fact, survey findings shared in Skillsoft's IT Skills and Salary Report reveal that soft skills like these are among the most important for those in leadership positions. The majority of respondents (40%) say team communication is the most important skill, and far fewer (8%) deem technical skills as the most critical.

If you work in tech and want to advance your career, here are the five most important skills for IT leaders to have and how to develop them:

1. Team Communication and Encouragement

Communication is an important skill to have in any job, but it is the most important skill for IT leaders to have.

This year, both IT staff and leaders responding to Skillsoft’s IT Skills and Salary survey ranked team communication as the single most important skill for those in leadership.

Being able to converse effectively with a team, as well as convey your actions to partners and clients is crucial to taking on more responsibilities in the workplace.

Specifically, good communication helps leaders explain complex tech concepts and build relationships with their colleagues. These skills are also essential for managing projects, addressing customer needs, and making important decisions.

Not to mention, having a passion for what you do and being able to openly express it with the rest of your team offers encouragement and inspiration.

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2. Interpersonal Communication and Team Building

The changing landscape in the tech industry has been largely driven by shifts to remote work. Therefore, building a strong sense of community is more important now than ever.

A leader should strive to bring out the best in people, bolster morale, and establish trust between their department and senior management.

Furthermore, IT projects are typically team-driven by members with diverse skill sets, so to grow as a leader and a professional, leaders must foster a personal connection with their team.

Collaboration, team spirit, and continuous learning among team members helps develop a community vested in the growth of the organization.

3. Emotional Intelligence, Delegation and Coaching

It can be hard to switch from a team member to a leader, even when you are a talented professional. One of the best leadership skills is the ability to bring out the best in everyone around you.

The best leaders are those who know how to delegate, coach, and give their team members the freedom to make mistakes. This helps emphasize everyone’s talents while also providing them with room to grow and succeed in different areas.

Upskilling and reskilling are crucial parts of this process, and choosing to implement robust learning programs within your team helps improve every individual.

4. Problem Solving and Business Skills

Working in tech, problem solving is a core part of the job. But problem-solving at a leadership level must be aligned with the company’s business goals and strategy.

If you’re an individual contributor today, this can be a mindset shift. You must broaden your thinking and apply your problem-solving skills to figure out how your domain — whether that’s security, software or otherwise — can drive your company toward success.

You must learn about customer needs, expectations, and competitors, and create solutions that serve the company’s objectives.

Additionally, the chance for success greatly increases when more than one person is involved in the decision-making process while working on complex projects. Therefore, you should also encourage employees to try out new ideas and strategies that could lead to innovation.

5. Commitment to Inclusion and Accessibility

Inclusion and accessibility go a long way toward setting leaders apart from their peers. It’s important to invest in getting to know your team and taking the time to understand the values that matter to them.

Creating a work environment where everyone feels comfortable, safe, and respected will produce the best results, and it shows that you as a leader value your team not only for the work they are creating, but for the people they are.

However, it’s important to remember that committing to inclusion and accessibility is an ongoing endeavor. It takes work, and devoting yourself to continuing that work is a crucial step all in leadership must take.

The Tech Field Needs Skilled, Versatile Leaders

The broader tech industry remains a strong, growing, and evolving space. More and more, the tech department becomes interwoven with the rest of the business — placing greater importance of the skills IT professionals have.

As IT professionals, it’s crucial that you invest in continual learning, whether your motivation is to advance your career or help those around with you deploy new tech. The investment in your own skills will pay off in more ways than one — and it starts by taking the first step.

If you’re interested in learning more about the important skills for tech leaders and how they apply to you and your team, check out some of Skillsoft’s IT training content and start learning today.