Actionable MSP Leadership Tips for your IT business 

5 min

Refreshing your views and mindset on MSP Leadership, getting to know your employees, building company culture and why you should never fight a bee

As we all kick off a new year, it’s an excellent time to reflect on the direction you want your IT business to head in the next 12 months. 

Recently we were privileged to host two of the best thinkers in terms of MSP Leadership to share their thoughts on the biggest issues facing MSPs right now. 

Arlin Sorensen, MSP Ecosystem Evangelist at ConnectWise, and Christopher Luise, co-CEO of AdNET Technologies joined us to share some of their top insider tips on Management and Leadership at your MSP. 

Today’s blog post will focus on actionable MSP Leadership and Management tactics you can apply to your IT Business straight away. 

Refreshing your views and mindset on MSP Leadership 

Since the pandemic hit the world two years ago, running an IT business or MSP has changed. Some businesses survived and others didn’t. 

The pandemic drove people to start thinking more about their life and what they want out of it. 

It’s almost as if people have had a sort of awakening. 

“A lot of people have woken up and said what am I doing with my life? What is my calling? What is my purpose?” (Chris Luise, co-CEO AdNet Technologies) 

This means that if you’re a leader, manager, owner or stakeholder at an MSP you need to understand how this change impacts your business. The pandemic, labor shortages, supply chain issues, the gig economy and other factors have changed the way that people work. 

So our first tip is to start thinking about the leadership at your MSP business and whether you have shifted your view, policies and mindset too, to keep up with this very monumental change in employee behavior. 

Get to know your employees 

This year many of us have experienced supply chain issues when it comes to hardware. At the same time, you may be overlooking the biggest risk to your supply chain. 

The biggest asset to your MSP is people. No people = No MSP. 

People are at the core of your business. 

Because of the big shift in employee behavior we talked about in point 1, many employees are now looking for a lot more than just a paycheck. 

They are looking for something that fits with their lifestyle, beliefs, values and fundamentally what they want to get out of life.  

Here are just some of the things to think about in terms of what your employees may be looking to get out of a relationship with your organization. 

  • Work-Life Balance
  • Flexible Working Place (i.e. Home) or Remote Location (i.e. another state)
  • Meaning, purpose, fulfillment
  • Community
  • Recognition
  • Potential for advancement and skill training
  • Company culture that is supportive and empathetic

Create a company culture that meets employee needs

Each employee may want something different when it comes to their relationship with you. For some, it could be money, new skills or meaning and for others, it could be work-life culture (parties, team drinks) recognition or working with someone they really want to learn from to advance themselves. 

Whatever it is your employees are looking for, you as a leader need to find out what that is. This will help you build the right kind of company culture. Building a positive and attractive company culture won’t happen overnight. It’ll take consistent and ongoing work. 

Having conversations with your employees is a very good place to start. Ask them how they feel, get to know them, find out what they want out of their role and continuously ask for feedback. Have conversations frequently. 

Be flexible and fair when it comes to your MSP policies

We all love things that are simple and easy to apply. This doesn’t always work when it comes to keeping employees happy and retaining them. 

When it comes to MSP Leadership there is no one size fits all approach or a predesigned template you can download from a website. 

Some employees may love working from home, while others may need an office to come into because they have young children at home. One employee may prefer starting at 10AM because they are looking after an ailing parent. 

As a leader at your MSP, you should look to understand the unique situation of each of your employees to create an environment that lets them thrive. When employees are thriving, you’ll achieve the best output.

When designing policies and procedures, focus on employee outputs which are achieved through great management. Don’t stick to rules or ways of doing things just because they’ve always been done that way. 

Manage your people with intention

“I really believe that companies that manage well…are still in the driver’s seat. They are going to hang on to those employees if they take care of them in the way that they need to.” (Arlin Sorensen, MSP Ecosystem Evangelist at ConnectWise. 

When employees were in an office, a lot of managers felt like they were managing their teams through osmosis.

Due to the pandemic, when employees started working from home, the cracks in management at many organizations began to show. This is because when employees started working from home, managers actually had to start managing. 

Management is not just showing up. You need to manage intentionally which takes time, planning and investment. 

Quick tips on MSP Management: 

  1. Manage your people with intention
  2. Measure employee output regularly
  3. Talk to your employees
  4. Understand what drives your employees and what they want to get out of their experience at your organization  
  5. Invest in good managers and management training

Invest in MSP Leadership Training 

“Leadership is not about being a dictator, it is about serving the people that are under you. To serve people well you need to take the time to understand them, to know what matters to them, to really be able to lead them well.” (Arlin Sorensen)

Leadership at any organization is about serving the people under you. 

At many IT businesses, MSP Leadership is neglected. Leadership and management are not the same; and leadership and ownership are not the same. In the MSP space, many organizations have a leadership problem because someone tries to wear the hat of being an MSP owner, leader and manager without the appropriate training or methodology in place.  

“How many people hone, and train and practice leadership?” (Christopher Luise). 

Many organizations will happily pay for technical training for an employee, but wouldn’t consider investing in leadership training. This needs to change! 

Key MSP leadership tips:

  • Leadership is about serving the people under you. To serve people well you need to take the time to understand them.  
  • Prioritize leadership as an important skill to have within your organization 
  • Invest in building great leaders 
  • Define the difference in management, leadership and ownership at your organization and know who is wearing each of these different hats

3, 2, 1 Blastoff – MSP Leadership Tips

At the end of each MSP Blastoff, we give you 3 actionable takeaways. Here are our  3 actionable takeaways on MSP Leadership.

  1. Invest in leadership and management training and experience
  2. Feedback is a gift and that feedback goes in both directions. Get feedback from your employees regularly. Work on actionable steps to create the desired culture at your organization. 
  3. Don’t get in a fight with a bee (you’ll have to watch the full length webinar to find out why!) 

Further reading: 

Watch the full video on MSP Leadership Tips Below


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