- Building and maintaining teams because when you lead more than one person they need to be able to work together effectively, otherwise they are more likely to cancel each other out than to get everything done.
- Establishing culture because if you don't establish it, culture will happen anyway, and often in ways that lead employees to make very poor choices.
- Communicating, which includes listening, informing, persuading, and facilitating, is integral to everything leaders do, because if you don't communicate effectively, all the other tasks of leadership will happen only inside your head where they won't influence anyone else.
Take control of your time
One more point (this is excerpted from Chapter 1): When the subject is leadership, managing your time is doubly important.
It's important first in that leadership isn't something you can treat as an afterthought or do in your spare time after you've completed your "real job." It is your real job or at least a major component of it. The eight tasks are yours to perform, and they won't get done without a serious commitment of your time, not to mention your energy, attention, creativity, and good judgment.
It wouldn't be a bad idea to start estimating how much additional time you should be spending on each of them. Then, when you've finished, take a look at your calendar to figure out where you're going to find the time to commit to them.
Of all the barriers to effective leadership, reorganizing your time budget is probably the hardest to achieve.
Focus on it.
Here's something that will make it hard for you to focus on it: To the extent you allow someone else to control your calendar -- in other words, to the extent that you've given that person authority over you -- you've allowed them to dictate to you where you have to be and why you have to be there. That means you've given someone else control over your priorities. It's an easy trap to fall into; when your calendar is full, you feel busy, and it's easy to mistake busyness for productivity.
Often, it's the opposite, because when your calendar is full you're dividing your energies over as many different subjects as you have appointments. That's the opposite of focus. And focus is an essential consequence of effective leadership.
Which means if you can't control your calendar, you can't even lead yourself. The same may be said about a lot of other subjects: If you have no self-control, can't motivate yourself, can't make decisions well, and so on, you can't lead yourself either.
And if you can't lead yourself, how do you expect to lead anyone else?
This story, "The 8 essential habits of highly effective IT leaders," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Read more of Bob Lewis's Advice Line blog on InfoWorld.com. For the latest business technology news, follow InfoWorld.com on Twitter.