IT Leadership Career Planning Research Center

Moving up in leadership means changing your mindset around success: from what you accomplish personally to what you enable others to achieve.

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Featured Research

You need less tech savvy than you may think and more business acumen than you may want.


& Role Expectations

Organizations require a combination of skills found across all levels. Your role determines which skills you need to practice – not the skills you may have. This means letting go of skills you have and learning new ones.


Contributor Track

Individual contributor isn't a limited position. If you want to continually deepen your technical knowledge, look outside a leadership career path.

Leadership Track

To grow as an IT leader, you need most of your development to happen in the business and leadership domain – not the technical domain.

Individual Contributor and Leadership Track Individual Contributor and Leadership Track


Leadership advancement requires self-reflection: an honest assessment of whether what you’re doing is really working in terms of values and actions.

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You must let go of the technical skills that built your credibility to make room for the business and leadership skills that will drive your success in the future.

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Build & Evolve

Most of your critical development will happen through experiences and mentorship, not through training programs.

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What direction do you want your career to go in? That question is sometimes difficult to answer because we tend to focus on a specific title or role. We recommend starting with what you have talent and passion for and examining your achievements and the skills required to deliver them. Building awareness around your current capabilities will inform your needs for the future.

“If you want something, you need to express it. Let people know what you're interested in and seek feedback on your plans and actions to take.” – Rick Pittman, SVP, Info-Tech Research Group

Info-Tech Insight
Leadership is a choice. If you want to continually deepen your technical knowledge, look outside a leadership career path, as there are many opportunities to grow your technical knowledge that don’t involve leading people.

Determine current state

Explore your current talents, passions, achievements, and skills to help determine your future direction.

Use this tool to capture your values and desires and the career milestones you hope to achieve in the future.

Career Aspiration Workbook

All leaders have a brand. What is said about you when you aren’t in the room? Good leaders are intentional.

Leadership Brand Workbook

Explore the future

Do your research to understand the job market for your potential next move. Seek out sample job descriptions and talk to people currently in the roles you desire.

Use Info-Tech’s list of job descriptions to inform your development decisions.

Job Descriptions

Watch this interview with two leaders who redefined their purpose to progress their career.

The Confident IT Professional


To grow as an IT leader, you must focus most of your development in the leadership and business domains. There is a career decision point: “Do you want to be the coach or do you want to be the star player?” Not being clear on your future will result in tension between role expectations and the technical work you are passionate about.

Don't be afraid of your reflection: “At that point [senior leader] in your career, you are a leader of leaders, you are not a leader of technology.” – Diane Schwarz, CIO, Johnson Controls

Info-Tech Insight
The context of your environment will influence your development, but it doesn’t determine it. Most organizations have leadership competencies to guide how their leaders behave and support their culture. Spend time understanding what those competencies are and how they adjust according to leadership levels to inform your development and continued growth.

Assessment & reflection tools

Cultivate self-awareness to drive your career path and decide what you want to be known for.

Use this tool to describe your current situation and identify your future goals.

IT Career Planning Self-Assessment

Use this tool to align behaviors with your organization’s leadership competencies.

Core Competency Map

Other assessment tools

Develop skills for your current role, but don't lose sight of how they will need to evolve for aspirational roles.

Use these business-focused diagnostics to ensure alignment with strategic activities.

IT Management & Governance Diagnostic CEO-CIO Alignment Program

Determine the culture you will set for your team.

Improve IT Team Effectiveness


Projects and mentors are the most impactful learning opportunities to grow your career. Not only do you obtain critical skills, you also gain exposure with other leaders and departments. Critical experiences that can lead to career progression and success include being involved in large, enterprise-wide projects, enterprise resource planning, or special projects and building professional relationships and a strategic network.

Info-Tech Insight
Follow the 70-20-10 concept when selecting development opportunities. The most effective way to learn is through experiences (70%), followed by relationships (20%), and traditional learning (10%).

Explore options

Research and identify the learning opportunities that may exist internally or externally.

Review formal learning options to build skills and develop a network.

Info-Tech Leadership Programs

Determine your strengths and identify opportunities to enhance them to support your career path.

Learning Methods Catalog for IT Employees

Building relationships

Most of your critical development will happen through experiences and mentorship, not through training programs.

Develop a mentor relationship.

Peer Mentoring Guidelines Mentoring Agreement Template

Continue to refine the leadership brand work you started in the Clarify stage.

Leadership Brand Workbook


Identify opportunities and assignments to build your plan. Share with your leader and ask for the opportunities to take on different work.

Info-Tech Insight

Development and career progression is intentional work. It won’t just come to you. Be clear on what your strengths are and the value you provide. Build a brand that is clear and enables others to support you.

Create your plan

Documenting plans ensures you are following the plan. Be clear on activities and outcomes. Your plan should be more than a list of tasks.

Create your plan and share it with your leader, mentor, or coach.

Competency Development Plan

We focus on what we can see. Create a simple, visual roadmap for your career progression.

Career Vision Roadmap


Growing as a leader and in your career is a continuous activity. As you grow and achieve success, be ready to identify how to continuously evolve your capabilities.

Hold yourself accountable

Check in with yourself and others on the progress you’re making toward milestones and take steps to adjust as needed.

Measure milestones, accomplishments, and outcomes.

Competency Development Plan

Ask for feedback to measure progress.

Peer Feedback – Management Mentoring Project Feedback Surveys Template
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