Why Technology Managers Make Great Leaders

Technology teams often lead organizations in new policies & best practices. These managers are among the best educated & experienced in leadership principles.

Technology Manager is a Great LeaderI admit, as a technology manager, I may be a bit biased here. However, at the risk of sounding egotistical, I believe technology managers possess especially strong leadership potential. In fact, there is a growing trend of Chief Information Officers (CIOs) becoming Chief Operating Officers (COOs), Presidents and CEOs. In your own organization, have you noticed how often IT leads the organization in new policies and best practices? I think this is because our colleagues in these departments are among the best educated and experienced in leadership principles, such as the following:


“Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower.” –  Steve Jobs

Leadership demands an ability to look to the future and understand broad trends in a given industry in order to develop tomorrow’s solutions. Individuals working in technology are always dealing with what’s coming next. Most technology projects are depreciated over 3 years – 5 at most. The useful life is often less. As a result, technology managers are among the best when it comes to innovation.

Risk Management

“The man who knows it can’t be done counts the risk, not the reward.” – Elbert Hubbard

There is a delicate balance of risk and reward in cultural leadership. Organizations need leaders that understand this balance and the degree of risk that is acceptable for their business models. When balancing the costs, development time, dependencies and other risks, technology managers become proficient at risk mitigation.


“You can have brilliant ideas, but if you can’t get them across, your ideas won’t get you anywhere.” – Lee Iacocca

Leaders who can not communicate effectively rarely remain leaders very long. Communication is also constantly required to be effective in technology management. The pace of change in information technology combined with the ever increasing dependency upon technology to do our daily jobs, results in effective communication as a basic skill of IT managers.


“If A equals success, then the formula is A equals X plus Y and Z, with X being work, Y play, and Z keeping your mouth shut.” – Albert Einstein

While effective communication includes listening, this is a skill so especially in demand for leaders that it deserves it’s own section. Similarly, effective technology managers are required to constantly listen to their customers. Business needs and organization requirements are constantly changing, evolving. As a result, the technology needs of stakeholders are always in flux. Technology managers that effectively build relationships with their customers must be great listeners.

Change Management

“Whosoever desires constant success must change his conduct with the times.” — Niccolo Machiavelli

If your organization is not changing with the times, it will lose to the competition. Therefore, leaders must be effective at managing change. The combination of constant innovation in their field, balanced with the communication necessary to support it, make technology managers particularly effective change managers as well.

Cross Functional Support

”Leaders must be close enough to relate to others, but far enough ahead to motivate them.” – John Maxwell

To be an effective leader for an organization, you must be empathetic to a diverse array of needs. I’ve always said, their are two leadership roles in an organization that must be especially adept at comprehending the broad needs of stakeholders: Chief Financial Officers and Chief Information Officers. CFOs must understand the needs of each department to effectively leverage financial assets. CIOs must understand the business needs of each department to effectively prioritize and deliver information solutions.

So while I may be a bit biased, I’m not surprised to see a growing number of technology managers being recognized for broader leadership roles in their organizations. After all, who better to lead your organization than one who grasps innovation, balances risks, communicates effectively, listens intently, manages change and provides support to all stakeholders?

Question: Do you see benefits in the growing trend of technology managers promoted to broad leadership roles?


Picture of Ben Lichtenwalner

Ben Lichtenwalner

Ben Lichtenwalner is the founder and principal of Modern Servant Leader and Radiant Forest, LLC. He has studied and promoted servant leadership awareness and adoption for over 20 years. He is the author of 2 leadership books and has 2 decades of corporate management and leadership experience. His corporate experience spans CIO, VP, Director, and many management roles at Fortune 500, INC 500, and Nonprofits. Ben’s education includes a B.S. in Management Science & Information Systems from Penn State University and an MBA from Lehigh University. Ben's Full Profile Here: About Ben Lichtenwalner

4 thoughts on “Why Technology Managers Make Great Leaders”

  1. Techies are certainly capable of all the attributes you cite, but the attributes are more important than the pedigree. Is this another instance of “are they that way because they are (techies), or are they (techies) because they are that way”? [Fill in the parentheses with just about any professional role… it usually works.] BTW, love the quotes… stole them for my quote wall.

    1. Great to hear from you again, Joe. I agree – hard to say. Though maybe we could add a key word to the phrase – “good”:

      “Are they that way because they are (techies), or are they GOOD (techies) because they are that way?”

      Again, admitting a bias here…. Thanks for contributing!

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