3 Traps New IT Leaders Need to Avoid

3 Traps New IT Leaders Need to Avoid

Three common mistakes first-time IT leaders make can freak out staff, get in the way of proving yourself, and ultimately cause you to fail. Here’s how to dodge them.

In over a decade as a CIO. and decades spent mentoring dozens of growing leaders, I have seen some common traps that many new leaders fall into. The good news is that you can avoid them if you know about them. Here are three of the most common ones.

Trap No. 1: The Panic Trap

It is inevitable for new IT leaders to be “shocked” at how bad things are when they take a new role, especially when coming from a different organization.

I have news for you, Sunshine. Nobody hires from the outside if things are great. They would hire an internal candidate if things were going well.

When I arrived at my last job, the ERP was down. It was down for two days. It was a freak out moment. But as my new boss sagely observed: “That’s why we brought you here.” And that’s why they brought you to your new role — to fix things.

If you’re lucky, things are merely a little bad. Maybe infrastructure and customers have both been neglected. That’s easy to handle over time.

Even if you’re unlucky (and may not have done your homework to ascertain what you were getting into) and things are super bad, remember that you are the person that they are looking at to bring them out of the storm and into a safe harbor. They have confidence in you.

Keep your head straight so that you are as helpful as possible. Seek small gains to create momentum. Panic is a trap that doesn’t help anyone. It will freak out your staff and your bosses. So, chill.

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