Tacit I.T. Leadership pt. 1- What and How

Previously, I posted about how good data leadership is foundational to the “Internet of Things”.  This was about enabling machines and computers by increasing their ability to share information with each other. We recognized the benefit in their ability to leverage information from systems external to themselves but related by common business environments. To me, this organic growth is not unlike what the most effective leaders do on a regular basis. It is the skill of integrating personal experience with contextual intelligence… Kind of a predictive analytics engine in the brain.

This talent is one of the earmarks of successful leaders. It is not just awareness of how to do something, but enhancing that with knowing why it should be done and therefore what action will give the best result. One phrase that I have seen used for this is “tacit knowledge”. Way back in 1966 a man named Michael Polyani wrote a book on this subject that he called “The Tacit Dimension”. Without getting too heady, tacit knowledge is the integration of the data warehouse in your brain…a combination of experience, observation, emotion, intuition and insight to yield wisdom in a particular area.

Most likely 80% of the people reading this are ready move on to something else. We are all quite busy and probably not looking for a Bob Sacca lecture. (He has been known to pontificate!) However, for the remaining 20% I will try to describe what I notice in highly talented IT leaders. I will put more in one of those “Part 2” things that I love to do. But, to start, here is some stuff to set the stage.

Power vs. Potential

A car by itself has power, but the skill and knowledge of the driver give a car potential. Think about this when filling positions in your organization. A candidate may have a lot of knowledge about business process, but a better candidate would be someone who has a strong level of understanding of business process and experience in the subject matter that they are leading.  The ability to combine the power of their business process knowledge with a level of expertise that subject area experience gives is their potential. I would look for the candidate with the maximum potential. It is the more complete solution that will best serve the purpose.


A strong IT leader can add business acumen to their technological expertise. When added to an awareness of any current influencing factors (Contextual intelligence), they attain the instinct and intuition that can maximize success. “Tacit” IT Leadership is much more than understanding how to work a P&L statement. It is also knowing what is the most appropriate course of action from a technical perspective should be taken.


About Bob Sacca

A member of the Senior IT Leadership team for General Electric Corporate with 20 years of experience in IT management and leading Both cloud and data related initiatives. Current responsibilities include organizational migration of applications to cloud based architectures. Strategic administration of public, hybrid and internal cloud offerings for business solutions.
This entry was posted in Data Leadership, Information Technology, Leadership, Tacit IT Leadership, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Tacit I.T. Leadership pt. 1- What and How

  1. Robert Rice says:

    Great pontificating Bob! I agree – When you have someone with the right combination of intelligence, experience, intuition, knowledge and motivation, you can do almost anything. Someone once told me, “If you interview for a job and they only want to know what your experience/education is, run away.”

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Paul Farmer says:

    Based on the above it would seem that Tacit Knowledge can be likened to instinct. Similar to riding a bike. We can explain to people that they hold onto and steer with the handlebars, use the pedals to propel the bike and show them how the brakes work but that alone won’t make them proficient at riding said bicycle. The actual art of riding a bike requires many unconscious adjustments, reactions, etc. that are more instinct than learned.

    The challenge is how to accurately identify that tacit quality in individuals from a work perspective. When we look at a leaders successes how do we discern whether those were directly attributable to the leader or to the leaders team? The polish on the resume may appear quite impressive until we start peeling back the layers. Then we can hopefully determine if its a case of the right person in the right place or merely just an individual being in the right place at the right time.


    • Bob Sacca says:

      Totally agree…It would be very difficult to gauge this on a resume…When I interview candidates for any position, I try to include questions that present a scenario that helps me understand their propensity for mixing the big 3 ingredients that I mentioned in my post. “Here is some information…what would you do?” See if they grasp what the desired outcome is and how they leverage the information provided to get there.


  3. Pingback: Tacit I.T. Leadership (pt. 2) | Depth Perception

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