The word “thought leader” is thrown around in countless articles, posts, videos, and onsite and virtual meetings. But what exactly is a thought reader? After all, no one has a degree in thought leadership.
An IT thought leader is someone who has disruptive yet actionable ideas about how to make IT work more effectively. “IT thought leaders understand business strategy as well as the potential of new technologies such as AI and the cloud,” he points out. “IT thought leaders have a deep understanding of IT’s role in the context of helping organizations grow by looking at all elements of the business lifecycle.”
There are a lot of great tech people out there, but relatively few are deeply involved in the overall enterprise. “They are fascinated by the problems facing businesses,” says Doug, his vice president of business insights and data practice at IT consulting firm Sogeti, a division of the advisory firm Capgemini. says Ross. “They are looking to translate desired organizational outcomes into actionable steps that IT can take.”
IT leaders who become trusted advisors to corporate management have a clear advantage over less insightful colleagues. “Someone who can translate business needs into a realistic business case will be the first person leadership calls when they need strategic help,” he said Ross.
IT thought leaders are digitally savvy, understanding IT knowledge and enjoying digital tools, said David Zhao, managing director of IT management consulting firm Coda Strategy. “They know how to align people, processes and technology to achieve digital transformation.”
become a thought leader
Perhaps your first step as an IT thought leader is to lead by example. “Don’t be afraid to take bold ideas. Don’t be afraid to push your organization out of its comfort zone,” he says Bethavandu.
For IT professionals, the benefits of thought leadership include both professional development and personal brand growth. Cybersecurity and Compliance Claire McKenna, Senior Her Writer and Researcher at her BARR Advisory, her services firm, said: She suggests considering different media for sharing thought leadership content. She said, “Blogging, appearing on podcasts, and doing media interviews are all great ways to start.”
Still, you don’t have to make a big splash. Thought leadership can be limited to colleagues within the company. “Get to know colleagues from different business units and talk to customers to understand their challenges.”
Individuals who aspire to be disruptive leaders can learn lessons of perseverance and innovation from IT startups. “Destruction doesn’t necessarily have to be a Big Bang phenomenon,” he says Bethavandu. “It can happen in multiple ways, on multiple fronts, big and small, and should help move your organization forward and make a difference.”
Being overly tech-centric is a common mistake aspiring thought leaders make. Such individuals start with technology and look for a problem to solve. “Instead, it’s important to remember that IT sort he leaders drive digital transformation,” he says Zhao. “Understanding technology is just one aspect of his IT thought leadership.”
Ross agrees. “I’ve seen some embarrassing examples of large technology purchases occurring before critical business requirements are fully understood,” he says. “First and foremost, understand the desired business outcomes, and remember that while technology has the potential to deliver those outcomes, it is by no means a panacea.”
According to Bethavandu, a strong business case is essential for any proposed new technology. “If your company isn’t ready for his DevOps, containerization, etc., be self-aware and don’t push those projects forward until your organization is ready,” he said. On the other hand, too much caution is also dangerous. “If you want to be a thought leader, you have to be bold and not afraid to fail,” says Bettavandu.
quality leader needed
Most companies are already facing a shortage of quality leaders. “Companies need both people leaders and thought leaders,” he says Zhao. A thought leader formulates a vision for his unit of business for the company. People leaders bring employees together to achieve that vision.
For thought leaders looking to spread their vision outside the organization, it’s important not to be seen as a selfish champion. “The goal is to educate your audience, not to get quality leads,” he says McKenna. “By building industry awareness and brand trust through thought leadership, trust that leads will come to you.”
What to read next:
https://www.informationweek.com/strategic-cio/how-to-become-an-it-thought-leader Do you have what it takes to become an IT thought leader?