Last month, Ophir Trigalo was named 2018 CIO of the Year by CompTIA AITP Chicago, SIM Chicago and The Executives’ Club of Chicago. Trigalo is Vice Provost and CIO of the Illinois Institute of Technology, where he’s led major initiatives to bolster the university’s technology services and infrastructure. This includes his team’s development and deployment of HAWKi, Illinois Tech’s official mobile app.
We connected with Trigalo to discuss key lessons learned on his career path and advice for leading an IT team to success. Looking to take your leadership skills to the next level? Check out Trigalo’s tips below:
Stop Managing and Start Leading.
Trigalo says successful leadership starts with the ability to rally your team around a shared vision. “Managing is telling people what do to, leading is telling people where you want to be,” says Trigalo. But it’s not just the leader’s vision that’s important, he says. “You must work with your team to imagine the future and define where you want to be with them. That way you’re communicating a collective vision that they truly believe in and will get behind.”
Diversity Fuels Problem Solving.
A dynamic team is one that examines issues from a variety of different perspectives. Trigalo emphasizes that diverse teams are better equipped to solve complex business problems than those that are largely homogenous in makeup. “When individuals from a diverse range of backgrounds come together to solve a problem, it promotes a much more holistic conversation and results in more innovative solutions,” says Trigalo.
Build Personal Relationships With Team Members.
An organization’s greatest asset is its employees. That’s why Trigalo says its critical to take time to get to know your team members as individuals. “I always ask them questions about their families and learn as much as I can about them,” says Trigalo. “If you truly believe in your team, you must show that you care about them in and out of the office.”
Stay on Top of Tech Trends.
Technology is evolving rapidly, and Trigalo says if you’re not staying on top of the latest trends—from artificial intelligence to blockchain—then you could miss a major opportunity to improve your organization. “You must always keep an eye on emerging technologies and ask yourself whether they can be applied to help your organization achieve its goals,” says Trigalo.
Invest in Training and Networking Opportunities.
“As a leader, it’s your job to make your staff successful,” says Trigalo. “And the biggest ingredient for this is investing in training programs.” Trigalo says he continually allocates more resources to managerial programs aimed at soft-skills development and specific training courses for staff to enhance their technical skills.
He also encourages his team to pursue networking opportunities such as those offered by CompTIA AITP because they “Allow you to engage in conversations about business ideas and concepts that you may have never considered before and can bring back to apply at your organization.”