Effective IT Executives
Iris Zarecki

The Seven Habits of Effective IT Executives

  • August 11, 2015
  • 3 min read

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With more than 10 million copies sold, Stephen Covey’s book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People®, has been a top-seller for the past 15 years.

While the habits described in the book would be valuable to any executive, I thought it could be interesting to see how these principles could be applied to specific challenges faced by IT executives today and come up with some variations on the original habits that would make IT executives more successful.

1. Be proactive

It’s for a good reason that Covey puts this habit first. When you spend your time reacting to events, you relinquish control. Almost no strategic initiative in the organization can be successfully implemented without IT resources, but when your IT teams are constantly busy firefighting, there is no time left for important and game-changing initiatives.

2. Begin with the end in mind

Being proactive starts with clear and measurable goals. Most IT executives have clear KPI’s they track. In most organizations, these KPI’s are also followed by senior management, including the CEO and board of directors.

who tracks IT KPIs
Who tracks IT KPI’s
(respondents could select more than one response)

3. Put first things first

When the goals are clear, it’s easy to set the priorities for your IT teams. For most IT organizations, service availability is priority number one.

most common IT operations KPIs
KPI’s for IT Operational Excellence
(respondents could select more than one response)

4. Think win-win

IT organizations are at the crossroads of many entities and stakeholders – from customers and partners to investors and employees. Even when some trade-offs are required, successful IT executives are those that seek win-win solutions that help all parties gain. This includes your vendors. While some IT executives try to squeeze the most out of their vendors, the more effective strategy in the long run is to view them as partners and help them not only survive but also sustain innovation that your organization will benefit from.

5. Seek first to understand

There is a big difference between being proactive and being impulsive. For those of us that have been around the block for quite some time, it is easy to fall into the trap of thinking we know everything. Effective IT leaders base their decisions on data, using intuition when called for but not over-relying on it.

ways to improve operational excellence
Means to achieve IT operational excellence
(respondents could select more than one response)

6. Synergize

Synergy can be one of those elusive benefits that you see in boardroom presentations. In the case of IT, lack of synergy can be extremely costly. The complexity of the IT environment makes interdependency a daily reality. Most IT failures can be traced to cross-domain misconfigurations, resulting from siloed IT operations and lack of end-to-end visibility.

7. Sharpen the saw

In Covey’s book, “Sharpen the Saw” refers to preserving and enhancing the greatest asset you have (you). In our IT Executive edition, we would like to extend this to your team. People are the greatest asset of your IT organization. While some of the tools we offer help prevent and correct human errors, the quality and dedication of your IT personnel will always have a great effect on the performance of your IT organization and your personal success—so hire the best and help them become even better!


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