The meaning of information technology is rapidly evolving, thanks to the length and breadth of digitalisation today. Every industry, be it fintech, telecom, or manufacturing, is converging on the interconnectedness of its parts and processes through digital technology, automation, data, and analytics. In that aspect, ‘IT leader’ can be used as a term for all corporate leaders looking to drive their organisation’s success through digital-powered innovation.
But today’s IT leader is not just a CXO who simply dabbles in number-crunching, software parsing, or analysing statistics. They are also expected to embrace a forward-thinking management style that manages systems, people, and culture. This is where transformational leadership plays a significant role in defining the success and longevity of the modern-day IT leader.
The most famous transformational leaders in India and the world have constantly exhibited transformational leadership traits that have enabled them to become masters in the world of information and technology. These global and Indian entrepreneurs continue to bring about a paradigm shift in their respective industries by aligning people with their bold, tech-driven vision. You can do the same by adopting the following four traits of a successful IT leader:
1. Motivates others through intellectual stimulation
Innovation is the most important aspect for IT leaders, and transformational leadership paves the way to it via intellectual stimulation. As an IT leader, you should challenge your employees to think creatively and without inhibitions. This is critical if your vision is to end the status quo and invent products and services that will catapult your business to glory.
IT leaders can transform their employees by creating a forward-thinking mindset firmly focused on the future and sustainability. Famous transformational leaders in India, such as Sanjiv Bajaj – the Chairman and Managing Director of Bajaj Finserv and President of CII (2022-23) – prove that pushing your employees to take risks and innovate can unlock incredible success. He has led the development of cross-functional, change-oriented teams called Centres of Excellence, where employees collaborate and execute innovations independent from other divisions. The focus is on risk-taking and thinking out-of-the-box solutions. This has sped up the innovation pipeline at Bajaj Finserv, enabling them to bring out effective digital banking and finance products faster in underserved markets.
2. Invests in talent acquisition and employee upskilling
Famous thought leaders in IT and beyond understand the true power of transformation lies in upgrading the skill level of their existing team. They also exhibit a proclivity to hire the best talent that adds to the organisation’s expertise. It is critical to encourage the growth of your staff if you want to be a transformative IT leader. What better way to do that than to invest in training and development programmes? Being committed to your employees’ growth shows how much you value them, and they are sure to reciprocate by adding to the company’s growth.
One of the most inspiring Indian entrepreneurs, Uday Kotak – the Chairman and Managing Director of the Kotak Mahindra Bank – has channelled his energies toward upskilling his employees with training and mentorship. This is especially true for younger hires at the company who can follow and reverse mentor senior leadership under its KYLC initiative. This has proven to foster creativity and co-innovation at the leading digital banking enterprise.
Transformational IT corporate leaders also recognise the need to constantly recruit to maintain their businesses at the forefront of the competitive tech industry. They accomplish this through strong networking as well as developing an eye for talent basis the most relevant skillsets that IT industry aspirants need to have.
3. Builds mutual trust and a higher degree of cooperation
Time and again, famous transformational leaders in India and abroad have shown how to incorporate and inspire their teams through mutual trust and cooperation. They accomplish this by being good listeners. This enables them to ensure that all employees and their opinions and ideas feel heard, seen and valued.
NR Narayana Murthy – the father of Indian IT and the Founder of Infosys – believes that the best way a leader can instil trust in their employees is via walking the talk. In his own words, that is how your team can truly follow your vision. Strong communication skills are also key to inspiring your teams without the need for micromanagement. Famous thought leaders in IT also maintain an open-door policy and are never shy to entrust critical tasks to their employees with a high degree of confidence. This promotes a sense of team spirit as all employees feel they have a say in the fortunes of an organisation, further encouraging them to cooperate and achieve their objectives.
4. Creates a culture of ownership
The last essential trait that all IT transformational leaders should embrace is instilling a culture of ownership. When employees start owning ideas, they have their skin in the game. That leads to a greater expression of their creative and problem-solving skills while remaining accountable. With ownership and accountability, transformational leaders can ensure that their teams recognise the gaps and focus on plugging them with innovative solutions.
Once again, we must cite the example of Sanjiv Bajaj, amongst the most renowned proponents of taking ownership at work. His mantra of ‘think like owners’ enables his teams to execute their ideas like entrepreneurs. This brings a global MNC-like efficiency to the workplace and ensures that all teams remain invested in getting their ideas beyond the finish line.
The traits mentioned above are part and parcel of the transformational leadership style that every IT corporate leader must strive to embrace. In doing so, they pave a pathway to join the ranks of the most famous thought leaders today. Most importantly, they help add more depth to the role of an IT leader, enabling one to see beyond technology and data into the transformation of the individual and the enterprise as a whole. This kind of holistic leadership is necessary in today’s disruptive work ecosystems and industries where the only way to succeed is by building a highly competitive team and engendering differential thinking.
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