I recently was reading in a trade journal that since technology has become so pervasive and integral to how a business runs that the technology leaders should have a business background rather than one in technology. I’m not sure what to think of that, and I’m pretty sure I disagree. While it is absolutely necessary for anyone in management to understand the big picture of how the business is run, I somehow doubt that anyone would consider the same ‘rule’ for any other discipline.
Would anyone ever argue that the head of finance not have a strong background in finance? Or a medical director have background in medicine? So to argue that an IT leader should have a background in business rather than technology is simply ridiculous.
I think it would be equally important that it would be necessary for someone who intended to lead a team of technology professionals have a similar background. Without the right credentials, any credibility as a leader would be lost.
The two worlds can coexist, though. Someone with a technology background can learn how to interact with business professionals, and of course technology can be learned. Most of the leaders I’ve known in technology support are there because they like this stuff. They enjoy understanding how it all fits together, and how they can leverage the knowledge of technology into a business advantage.