Leadership Development for Smarties: from Source Code to the Boardroom

Posted on - AIM Newsroom, Community, Tech Education

A first-rate developer is easy to spot. You can quantify how many languages a person knows, how effectively they work, how much value they offer. Evidence of their talent is tangible, well-documented, and often literally glowing.

Good managerial candidates are less noticeable. Someone might be a persuasive presenter of innovative ideas, but lack follow-through. Another might boost the morale of everyone around them, but have a hard time delivering bad news. One might seem like the greatest UX designer in the world, but is actually just three children in a trenchcoat.

Fortunately, companies can reliably transform tech talent into great leaders through specialized IT leadership development training, like the AIM Institute’s IT Emerging Leaders Program.

Designed for the unique challenges of the tech industry, the IT Emerging Leaders Program helps tech professionals develop leadership skills and transition from a tech path to a managerial track.

Attendees learn about personal growth, relationship building, effective communication skills, resource optimization and intelligent career development strategies. They enjoy access to presentations by high-performing IT managers, peer-to-peer discussion and problem-solving workshops that help them troubleshoot real-world scenarios technology leaders face every day.

“I Knew I Could Do Great Things”

Ryan Markus and Brian Cary of TEAM Software both attended the eight-week course at crucial junctures in their lives.

“We were both kind of at the same spot in our careers: the go-to guys,” said Markus, now a Senior Software Engineer at TEAM Software.

While neither he nor Cary carried any formal authority at the time, coworkers still tended to go to them for help, regardless of job titles.

TEAM Software took notice. With a culture that prizes investment in its employees’ growth, the company paid for Markus and Cary to enroll in the IT Emerging Leaders Program.

“I knew I could do great things, but I wasn’t sure how to get there,” Markus said.

Testing the Leadership Waters

The Emerging Leaders Program is especially suited toward tech professionals who wonder whether a move to management would suit them. Perhaps they’re curious about what it takes to lead, but aren’t sure they’d be good at it. The Emerging Leaders Program not only helps IT professionals develop leadership skills, it also gives them a low-risk chance to determine whether they even want to manage.

Ultimately, the Emerging Leaders Program whetted Markus’s appetite for more intensive leadership training. He enrolled in the nine-month AIM IT Leadership Academy, an in-depth leadership development course for current and upcoming IT managers.

Cary, on the other hand, had already minored in business leadership at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln during his undergraduate years. But he’d been working as a software developer for five years and wanted a refresher on the formal leadership training he’d already undergone before entering the workforce.

“A lot of the emerging leaders was, for me, more about the connections and the anecdotes that we heard from industry professionals that came in,” Cary said. “That was really good for me because I was able to ask a lot of questions about people who made the transition between technology and leadership.”

People like the Chief Technology Officer of Farm Credit Services, who started as a software developer and transitioned into the CTO role, deeply impressed Cary. “Those types of things were what I really wanted to hear about from people in the industry,” he said.

Like Markus, Cary enrolled in the more intensive AIM IT Leadership Academy as soon as he graduated from the Emerging Leaders Program.

Investing in Employee Growth Pays Off

Shortly after graduating from the Leadership Academy, Cary landed a major promotion. He now works as Software Development Manager for TEAM Software, and is the direct report for eight software & data engineers working across multiple Agile engineering teams.

Markus said the Emerging Leaders Program quickly instilled in him the confidence and skills to start exercising leadership more naturally—skills like relationship-building.

“Dealing with people is pretty challenging sometimes,” Markus said. “Sometimes, it makes software look easy.”

If you or someone in your company is wondering whether to transition from tech to management, direct them to the AIM IT Emerging Leaders Program. Classes start April 23 and are held every other Thursday from 1 to 5 p.m. at various locations around Omaha. Early-bird registration is available until March 1.

This post originally published by Silicon Prairie News.