Aspiring Managers: Do it Your Way

October 2005

Man Writing The Word Leader On Whiteboard'How to become a successful leader,' was the theme of a speech by David Taylor, to a BCS Young Professionals Group (YPG) seminar. Helen Boddy, BCS assistant editor, reports.

The ability to form relationships and whether people like you are key to being successful, according to David Taylor, who was at pains to highlight the importance of soft skills in becoming a leader when he addressed a BCS YPG seminar. The event had been set up because the YPG committee have recognised the importance of management skills in IT and was aiming through workshops to increase business awareness.

'It's not about what you do, it's about what people think you do,' explained Taylor, author of the Naked Leader series of management books. He told the 80 delegates to focus on learning how to build relationships, network and be persuasive.

One formula for success fits all

In David's view there is a formula that will guarantee success at work, or indeed any area of life, and all self development books basically advocate the same approach: work out where you want to go or who you want to be, and then do it. He stressed that it is not necessary to know how to get where you want to be; it's the 'what you want to be’ that is important. Concentrating on the what means the how falls into place. It's important to be persistent and active.

'Don't spend all your time planning – take action,' he advised. 'If something does not work in trying to reach your goal, try something else. Decide what you are going to do and close off every other possibility.'

A good example of persistence is that of JK Rowling who received 81 rejections before succeeding in getting her first Harry Potter book published.

Soft skills count in leadership

David told YPG that he believed everyone was born with the qualities to be leaders because it is the soft skills rather than technical ability that counts. The same was true at a department level in his view. He suggested that services are outsourced because someone has a personal dislike of somebody or a team, rather than due to rational business needs.

'Business decisions are based on emotion,' he said. He advised IT professionals to be very careful in how they position themselves in the organisation. One of his tips was not to use language that no-one else would understand in a meeting.

In any case, he envisaged that IT would eventually no longer be a separate department; it would be totally integrated within the organisation.

Having put forward his suggestions of how to obtain success, David advised the audience not to take great heed of what he had said.

'It all comes down to what works for you. Keep focusing on what you want,' he concluded.