What does an IT Manager do?

Is an IT Manager just another office drone, linked into middle management? Or do they have to have a different set of super IT skills and be able to motivate? SET spoke to Robert Gordon University about the role of the IT Manager.

Every manager must have certain skills to carry out their job. Among these common managerial skills are planning and organising, evaluation and decision-making, budgeting and people skills and much more.  However, an IT manager also needs a different set of skills.

IT manager skills

There are three things that differentiate the IT Manager role:
  • Domain knowledge – we expect a Sales Manager to know about sales, so an IT Manager should know about IT.
     
  • The majority of people in the IT department will know more about their specific area of IT than the manager does – so the IT Manager can rarely lead by example, as most managers do. Instead, there has to be real teamwork, with the manager more like the coach of a sports team than a traditional leader. The manager needs to develop vision, have the ability to set out a clear strategy, and have excellent influencing and negotiating skills, to get his team to perform as a whole.
     
  • Unlike other managers, they have to combine the role of service manager – “keeping the lights on” – and visionary – to ensure their business can exploit new opportunities. To carry this out successfully, IT managers must have real insight into how their company operates and what their business is about.
How to become a qualified IT Manager

Many people who want to be an IT Manager will follow the route of getting an MBA, because this is seen as necessary to achieve any senior position these days. However, the term “Business Administration” is not really what an IT Manager is about. While an MBA may well be something that an IT Manager will find useful, it will not teach them how to be a better IT Manager.

For that, a specific course is required, staffed with people who have really done the job. At Robert Gordon University, we see our IT Management course as a true preparation to be an IT leader. It will cover many of the same strategic topics as an MBA – but crucially, it will set these in the context of the IT management position. Think carefully what you want to be: a business administrator or a visionary leader who can use IT to drive your company forward?
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