3 Types of IT Leaders
Having spent over 15 years in IT, I’ve learned a lot. I’ve been exposed to thousands of IT people and hundreds of leaders all of them with different personalities, strengths and weaknesses. In this post, I’ll share a few observations I’ve made over the years. Think of these leader types as marketing personas, meant to assist you when trying to understand an IT leader. Obviously any single individual may be different so always use your own judgement 🙂
With that said, here are 3 common types of IT leaders:
The Technologist – A career IT person, this leader thinks in terms of what’s “cool” in technology.
- Signs of a Technologist: Often a working manager. Perhaps isn’t much of a people person. Every conversation revolves around technology. His probing questions are likely to be feign interest in your offering, but instead his way of assessing how competent you are. He’ll judge you based on that. Often an ego-related.
- Strengths: Very in-tune with what technology can do. Passionate about technical solutions.
- Weaknesses: Often lacks people skills. Sometimes sacrifices business acumen for passion about the solutions themselves.
- Cares About: The technology itself.
- Buying Behavior: Buys based on how cool the technology is and how competent you (or your organization) is.
- Profit Equation Profile: Indifferent. Doesn’t concern him/herself with either costs or revenue. It’s about the technology!
- Often Seen In: Smaller businesses with lower maturity or organizations that are not high touch with their clients.
- Tips on Selling to The Technologist: Emphasize how cutting edge your solution is. Get very deep in the weeds with the technology. If you’re not well-versed, be sure to bring along someone who is equally nerdy about the tech. These two will hit it off . Stroke his/her ego by telling them what a smart person they are and all the great technology they’ve already chosen.
The Hybrid Manager – A mix of technology experience and other business roles makes this leader well-rounded.
- Signs of a Hybrid Manager: Probably feels stressed out and stretched-too-thin because she’s doing everything. Is responsible for both operational success and management of people and vendors. Feels underappreciated at times. Knows there’s more to do than she can handle and can be frustrated by lack of quality.
- Strengths: Versatile skillset. Very hard worker trying to do the right thing.
- Weaknesses: Her cup overflows so she may be good at everything but not exceptional at anything.
- Cares About: Doing the right thing and getting things done. She cares about her people.
- Buying Behavior: Buys based on will it make her life easier and is it right for her company.
- Profit Equation Profile: Tends to focus on the cost side.
- Often Seen In: Growing businesses where IT hasn’t quite caught up to the business growth.
- Tips on Selling to The Hybrid Manager: Empathize with her situation. Agree she’s overworked! Emphasize how your solution can make her life easier while keeping costs low. Dive a bit deeper on TCO – it’s not just your products list price but also how it can reduce workload (and stress!) and therefore support costs are lower. Be a great listener to her struggles to just stay afloat.
The Business CIO- The new model for IT executives. The Business CIO focuses on solving business problems through technology.
- Signs of a Business CIO: Speaks business language. Often stays at 10,000 feet vs. getting into the technical weeds.
- Strengths: Tends to be better understood by CEO/President/Owner. Good communicator. Oriented towards what’s best for achieving business goals.
- Weaknesses: May not know any individual technology deeply.
- Cares About: Achieving business results.
- Buying Behavior: Value, results-based. Buys based on what will help him/her achieve the organizations goals.
- Profit Equation Profile: Profit driven. Understands costs well, but looks past costs to see how new revenue can be generated. Understands you have to spend $1 to make $2.
- Often Seen In: Mature businesses with experienced executives. High Tech or new generation organizations with a data-driven mindset.
- Tips on Selling to The Business CIO: Focus on understanding the business direction, goals and strategy to achieve them. Talk in terms of value. Demonstrate your ability to consider costs, pros and cons, and business risk for any solution. Don’t ignore your solutions’ weaknesses as the Business CIO will naturally see them anyways. Your honesty will earn his/her trust.
Different people buy for different reasons. I hope these personas help you the next time you’re sitting in front of an IT leader with hopes of helping him or her solve a problem!