Ways for IT Leaders to Rise Above the Fear

Change is a fact of life, but it always brings a level of anxiety – even when the change is positive. With change comes a certain amount of uncertainty, especially when we don’t have absolute confidence in the outcome. This is why so many of us try to avoid change at all costs.

While you may never get over your fear of change, you need to be able to manage it. And with some practice, you can make it work for you. When you see disruptions as opportunities rather than problems, you are making a conscious mental change to accept the challenge, rather than avoid it, and to learn and grow. Avoiding change doesn’t stop it from happening, it just leaves you unprepared when it arrives.

Some changes are forced upon you, with little or no warning, such as a disease, an epidemic, or an economic crisis. Or it could be the change you initiate; For example, changing your career, taking on a new job, or transforming your business into an emerging market. Regardless of the situation, your ability to face change head-on, overcome it, and even thrive and succeed under new circumstances, requires more than just resilience. Managing change requires a deep understanding of your capabilities, who you are, your current reality, and where you want to go.

As an entrepreneur, I lived with change and uncertainty of the outcome. Getting comfortable in this place took time. During my 30-year career, my business has experienced dramatic upheaval, including the September 11 attacks, the 2008 financial crisis, and the recent pandemic. While it is almost impossible to predict these catastrophic events, my reaction and the business decisions I made later were the difference in our ability to weather these events and survive as a company.

There were also occasions where I deliberately disrupted my own business. This was necessary to stay competitive and take advantage of growth opportunities in the market. A recent example is the emergence of cloud computing as the dominant platform for digital transformation. Our ability to recognize this change many years ago and direct our product development in this field has allowed us to take advantage of the massive movement to the cloud. When the pandemic hit, every company accelerated their digital business — and we were ready to cash in on that movement.

What may seem to some as lucky is a well-planned and organized strategy, made possible because we have learned how to anticipate and plan for the inevitable change at work.

The IT industry has gone through a great deal of change; But on top of that, organizations realize that to compete, stay relevant and engage in a meaningful way with their customers and partners, they need a strong technical foundation. This puts an incredible amount of pressure on IT leaders – not just to meet growing business needs, but to find a balance between maintaining a secure and reliable operating foundation, while at the same time building a platform that allows businesses to pivot without warning. For IT leaders to thrive, they must embrace change, deliver results when results are unpredictable, build a strong consulting relationship with their business leaders, and attract/retain highly-demanded skilled resources. None of these are easy: they require IT leaders to manage and thrive in an environment of constant change.

Here are three lessons I’ve learned to help you prepare for whatever comes your way.

  1. Gain a strong appreciation and understanding of your current reality, who you are, and your current career goals. As Socrates so brilliantly said, “Know thyself.”
  2. Learn to listen more and talk less. Pay attention to where the market is heading. Be comfortable asking questions and open to learning – to rethink what you thought you knew.
  3. Take advantage of every opportunity, no matter how small, provided that it brings you closer to achieving your goals. Building consistent, incremental and noticeable results that create confidence in your team. Announcing the “change management” strategy is not paying off. The most meaningful, sustainable, and motivating results are those made by a small group of people who show momentum. You are looking for consistent, predictable, noticeable, and tangible results. Everyone wants to be part of the winning team – show them the way.

As a technology entrepreneur for the past 30 years, I have had the pleasure of starting and selling four technology companies. In all my endeavors, I had to find a way to revitalize the business. Throughout my career, I’ve followed these steps with great success. No matter what change you are facing, I want you to trust that you can control your destiny and make the change in your favour.

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