IT Management is all about skills. No technology will replace them for you. Getting IT Manager’s skills requires learning, training, and experience. How to master the skills necessary to become an awesome IT Manager? That’s what we’ll talk about this time!

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What skills do you need to become a great IT Manager? Why do you need them? We’ve covered these aspects in our last post – Top 5 IT managers’ challenges and how to overcome them. From the analysis of the challenges the IT Managers have to face, we’ve concluded that they need the following skills. In this post, we’ll discuss how to learn them.

How to get these skills? There are many ways. Below we’ll show you the best sources and ways we’ve discovered over years of experience.

How to learn IT Manager’s interpersonal skills?

Marketing skills

You need great marketing skills to show the management board members the awesome job your team does. Results of the IT employees’ work are often invisible. You have to advertise it in the most effective way to the board. They may want to appreciate the effort, but they have to know what your team delivered.

There are many resources where you can learn marketing skills. One of the best is Dan Lok. He and his team teach about marketing in the context of business. Yet, you’ll find his advice useful in your work as an IT Manager as well. You can learn from his free content on the Internet – especially on his large Youtube channel. One of his great quotes is “people don’t buy because they understand you, but because they feel understood”. This one line is a great guidepost for you to follow.

Leadership skills

For learning leadership skills you don’t have to look any further than the well-known Simon Sinek. Simon, like Dan, publishes a lot of his content completely free. You’ll find it on Simon’s Youtube channel. You won’t learn from him how to brute force your team to do what you want them to do. You’ll learn though how to make them want to sacrifice their time and effort to do the job for you and the company. What’s even better, Simon’s way will work not only with your subordinates. It will help you to motivate and inspire your coworkers, vendors, and clients as well.

Negotiation skills

You’ll find negotiation skills useful in both marketing and leadership efforts. You’ll be glad to have them in many other everyday situations too. As Chris Voss always says:

“The most dangerous negotiation is the one you don’t know you’re in”.

Chris Voss

He means by that to be aware that negotiations happen every day of your life. Mind when they occur to act in your own favor.

OK, but who’s Chris Voss? He’s the former FBI lead hostage negotiator. After 24 years in the Bureau, he’s a world-class expert in high-stake negotiations. He also often says,

“My work was to sell time in jail”.

Chris Voss

We bet your IT team’s work is way more attractive to sell than that… Chris must be quite skillful to make people agree to spend many years of their lives in prison. Chris founded Black Swan Group to teach these skills. The Group translates all the knowledge learned in law enforcement into the language of business. You’ll find tons of free content on their website and Youtube channel. You’ll also want to read his book “Never split the difference“. It will help you understand what their negotiation method is all about.

How to learn IT Manager’s analytical skills?

If you want to learn logical, analytical thinking, first you have to realize how unlogical you are. You’ll find it hard to believe at the beginning. People tend to make irrational decisions automatically while being sure they’re reasonable. We do it. You do it too. How it’s possible? You may have heard about cognitive biases. What you may not realize is how significantly these systematic errors affect the way you think. We are all especially prone to one of them – loss aversion – which harms us in a variety of different ways. Reading a book written by a man who discovered the biases will let you grasp it.

Daniel Kahneman -the author of the book – won the Nobel prize in economics in 2002. He was recognized by the jury for concerning human judgment under uncertainty. This is exactly when cognitive biases jump in and harm your reason. You may be afraid that the Nobel prize laureate’s book is not for you… Well, Kahneman wrote it using this extensive knowledge about human mind limitations. As a result, the book is full of great stories and examples illustrating explained topics. It’s even better! There are exercises, which you can try on yourself to experience how oddly unlogical you are. All of them will help you not only read about the knowledge but also experience it while reading. What’s the book? Its title is “Thinking, fast and slow”. We recommend it to anyone who desires to improve his or her analytical and logical skills.

How to learn IT Manager’s technical skills?

As we’ve said in the post Top 5 IT managers’ challenges and how to overcome them technical skills don’t decide about the greatness of an IT Manager. Yet, you’ll find it hard to act as an IT Manager without them. IT Managers have different technical backgrounds. Some of them have more experience with hardware and infrastructure. Others worked with application development and implementation. When you become an IT Manager you should have some technical background in at least one IT area. Preferably in many of them.

What to do if you feel that you lack technical knowledge in some aspect?

If you see that you don’t have professional knowledge – ask your team. As the IT Manager, your main job is to manage people who know how to do the job. They’ll provide you with all the technical information and insights you need to make your decision.

What if you don’t have enough basic knowledge to communicate with your team effectively? You can learn the main concepts of the topic at hand from the Internet for free – from Youtube for example. You can also read books – you’ll find publications for virtually any topic. If you want a certificate to confirm completing a course, search no further than Udemy. The level of technical knowledge provided by courses there fulfills the needs of the IT Manager. Technical training and certifications are better for technical staff. You’ll find it more beneficial to become skilled and certified in managerial skills.

How to learn IT Manager’s IT security skills?

IT Security skills should have a special place in both your heart and your mind. As an IT Manager, one of your main tasks is to secure your IT environment as much as you can. To fulfill it you’ll need both the technical skills and knowledge of specific IT security processes. How to learn them? You’ll find a great source of knowledge in cybersecurity frameworks like ISO 27001/27002, NIST 800-53, or OWASP ASVS. We’ve described their scope in the post “How To Choose The Best SaaS Cloud Service?“, so you can start there. When you understand the concepts, you’ll find it easy to understand what features different ITsec systems provide.

Another resource to learn about IT Security is ISACA’s COBIT framework. You may find it very restrictive. That’s because ISACA has designed it to serve the financial sector. In most industries, you won’t need to be as restrictive as the COBIT proposes. Yet, in COBIT you’ll find the knowledge of how to manage IT Security, especially in the area of audits.

How to learn IT Manager’s organizational skills?

You’ll find several sources to learn about IT organizations. The first of them is Togaf. Togaf describes concepts of building business architecture. It will help you organize your applications to keep the whole IT environment in order. With Togaf knowledge you’ll prevent duplicating functionalities in many applications. It can also save you from trapping yourself in vendor lock situations.

To understand the way IT teams work, you’d like to get a grasp of project management methodologies. Both waterfall and agile methodologies have their waving fans. Some of them say that the other type is worse than others. Don’t pay too much attention to these arguments. As an IT Manager, you want to know concepts of both of these types. For waterfall learn the most popular one – the Prince2. For agile, you’ve probably heard about the Scrum methodology. This is the one to learn. Why Prince2 and Scrum and no others? Are they the best? Maybe, but there are many different opinions. They are by far the most popular in the IT sector, so if you learn them, your skills are well recognized.

Last, but definitely, not least you should have an understanding of how an IT organization works. Specifically for this purpose, many IT experts collaboratively created a set of best practices. They’ve called it ITIL. It’s all about processes, which, when put together, create an efficient IT organization. ITIL in its current 4th generation doesn’t call them processes, but rather practices. Still, in this framework, you’ll find ideas on how to organize the IT department’s work. You’ll find there also one, very important but often ignored rule. You should put in place only as much formalized organizational rigor as necessary!

The key to learning IT Manager’s skills?

Above all books, courses, certifications, and methodologies there is one secret key to getting great IT Manager’s skills. You’ll be disappointed, cause this is no magic spell or shortcut. What we mean is unfortunately the good, old practice. You may read all the books in the world. You can plan and design your perfect imaginary IT department. But as Mike Tyson said:

“Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.”

Mike Tyson

This phrase applies perfectly to the IT Manager’s everyday life. You may have the best idea in the world. Yet only balancing between ensuring cybersecurity, fulfilling demands for business features, and dealing with insufficient resources will give you real wisdom on how to manage an IT organization.

So, no matter where you are – at the beginning of your IT career or for many years in an IT manager role – do the practice. Practice working with a client and with the final user. Practice your social and managerial skills while sharpening your technical knowledge. Only this way you’ll become a great IT Manager.

Where to start an IT career to learn IT Manager’s skills?

You don’t become an IT Manager right at the beginning of your career. Even if you somehow can, you shouldn’t do it. Why? To manage something you need more than a theoretical knowledge of how it works. You must feel and experience how it is to be part of it. Working at the bottom of the IT career ladder will give you a priceless awareness of what an IT job is. You can’t replace it with anything.

What do you need it for? Mostly to understand better both – your subordinates and the users. You want to understand your subordinates to show them empathy. Nothing will motivate them more than this. You want to understand users to deliver them what they really need, not what you think they should need. That’s not always the same.

OK, but what IT job is the best to start getting this kind of experience? You can start at any technical position. But the more contact you have with the final user the better. Why? As we just said, to deliver great value to final users. How would you understand what they want unless you work with them directly? You may not find it attractive, but the greatest position to start an IT career is the service desk. Become a service desk specialist and learn as much as you can from… your users. The more information and insights you get from them the better experience you’ll be able to provide for users as the IT Manager. And this experience is what you’ll be evaluated for in the managerial position.


As you already know, an IT Manager needs a lot of different skills to provide great value for the organization. For virtually any area of expertise, there are tons of resources to learn from. We’ve shown you some of the most popular and respected in the industry. There is much to learn, but unfortunately, you won’t become a great IT Manager without studying these topics. Take your time. Learn it. But, as we told you, no amount of theoretical knowledge will replace practicing it in the real world. So learn theory, apply it, and strive as an IT Manager!

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Does this post seem incomplete to you? Do you have another opinion or other great resources to learn IT Manager’s skills? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments!