What does it take to be a leader in government IT?

Government IT is a fickle world that requires leaders to utilize multiple skillsets to achieve success. This world has many moving parts, and if not managed properly, could break down and create mayhem. What do leaders in government technology need to do to be successful? Here are two suggestions…

  • First, leaders must build a solid team around them—no one can do all the work themselves. Although recruiting IT professionals to government is difficult when the private sector is grabbing them up, a leader must not waver and must hire the best people for the job.
  • Second, a leader must recognize when to ask for help. With unprecedented budget reductions, governments can no longer “go it alone.” The most effective government leaders are those assessing their organizations’ needs and quickly seeking out partners for help. This culture-shift is bringing government-to-government collaboration to an all-time high and giving agencies an opportunity to leverage technology dollars across multiple entities.

There are numerous skills that leaders exhibit on their way to successful technology initiatives. What skills do you think leaders need in the world of government technology?

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David Dejewski

Specifically in government technology, leaders need to have a skill in speaking plain English and a natural inclination to communicate. When I was a CIO, I spent most of my time in three worlds: the Business of the organization, Legal (policy and law), and Technology.
When I was with business people, we spoke about technology enablers / limitations and legal enablers / constraints, when I was with the lawyers, we spoke mostly about the relationship between technology and the business. When I was with techies, we spoke mostly about the business they were supporting and the laws and regulations that supported or constrained them. In all three worlds, I had to listen and translate everything carefully.
One time, I was with all three groups and the discussion included lot’s of uses of the word “system.” Human systems, legal systems and technical systems were being referenced in rapid fire fashion. It was as if three conversations were going on at once (and they were). I often had to be the Rosetta stone to keep all three groups on the same page and working together.
Without a doubt, communication was one of my primary roles as a CIO.

Phil Bertolini

Great comments David. I always say, technology is the easy part. The difficult part is getting people to understand and use the technology–communication being key. Also, your Rosetta Stone analogy is great!