Becoming a Disruptive IT Leader Without Alienating Staff and Colleagues

Everybody loves tech visionaries, at least until they begin launching impossible strategies and making absurd demands. That's why it's important to know that even disruption has limitations.


December 12, 2023

2 Min Read
9 paper fish following a fish

Disruptive leaders strongly believe in rule-breaking and questioning the status quo. These individuals are committed to bold, innovative action, and thinking outside the box. The problem is, some disruptive leaders become too dedicated to the approach, resulting in confusion and frustration. As a result, they find themselves losing team and management support, and in the process, inadvertently transforming themselves into ineffectual leaders.

Driving transformation is hard and there isn't a playbook, says Jason Birmingham, CTO at financial technology company Broadridge Financial Solutions, in an email interview. "Leaders have to know when and how to push and, maybe more importantly, when not to push," he explains. "Transformation requires IT leaders to have multiple tools, as well as the wisdom and knowledge to know when to use each of them."

Implementing a disruptive initiative isn't easy. "Anything a leader can do to build a following and shared vision tends to pay off down the road," says Ron Ash, chief operating officer with consulting firm Accenture Federal Services, via email. "This approach also allows you to learn about what will motivate others to follow you along the innovation journey, even when things get challenging."

Going Overboard

Related:5 Must-Have IT Management Skills That Go Beyond Technical Expertise

Disruptive leaders can become too heavy-handed and close-minded, observes Shelli Brunswick, chief operating officer of the Space Foundation, a nonprofit organization that advocates for the global space industry. "This not only demoralizes a team as they operate within a culture of fear but stamps out creativity and potentially shuts down innovative thoughts and ideas, setting projects back," she says via email.

Another risk is losing situational awareness. "Transformations are dynamic, requiring IT leaders to constantly reassess the state of stakeholders and the team," Birmingham says. "Sticking to the same script when change is required often leads to leaders losing touch with the team."

Disruptive leaders tend to think several steps ahead, which can make it appear they're cutting corners or executing by instinct. …

Read the rest of this article on InformationWeek.

Read more about:


About the Author(s)


InformationWeek, a sister site to ITPro Today, is a trusted source for CIOs and IT leaders seeking comprehensive and authentic coverage of the constantly evolving world of technology and its impact on business. Our experienced and ethical journalists conduct in-depth examinations of crucial issues and the impact of global events on IT operations and strategies, helping forward-thinking executives stay at the forefront of their industries. InformationWeek also provides a platform for enterprise IT leaders and leading tech companies to share their insights and experiences through exclusive interviews, opinion pieces, and events, offering firsthand accounts of strategies, trends, and innovations.

Sign up for the ITPro Today newsletter
Stay on top of the IT universe with commentary, news analysis, how-to's, and tips delivered to your inbox daily.

You May Also Like