Have you ever been employed by a company and worked for a manager whom you felt wasn’t authentic? As an employee it is miserable to work for a manager who constantly changes the target of expected behavior- or worse yet- doesn’t attempt to meet the target themselves. A leader that continually stresses the importance of a characteristic to his or her team, that they themselves don’t posses or strive for, will soon have a poorly performing, disengaged team consisting of people that don’t respect them. To avoid this, and be successful, leaders must be authentic, genuine and consistent.
Being Authentic means a leader needs to model the behavior they expect from their team(s). Conversely, being unauthentic means operating under the “do as I say, not as I do” creed. Successful leaders hold themselves to a greater standard of excellence than they expect from their employees.
Being Genuine is imperative; giving honest feedback, criticism and praise is a must for any CIO, CTO or technology leader to be successful. A leader cannot be authentic if they insist on either giving their employees praise, and not meaning it, or worse yet refusing to openly praise the work their team does. Successful leaders understand the importance of giving credit where credit is due, and they mean it when they praise individual members or the team as a whole.
Being Consistent is integral to authenticity. I used to work as a freelance audio engineer- recording and editing all sorts of media. I had a large, nationally known, client I regularly worked for. I would constantly document the scope of work for each project, monitor, record and fulfill change orders and deliver all files ahead of schedule Without wail there would be countless changes and revisions before the final product was completed; ultimately the final file was in no way, shape or form representative of the original scope. It was miserable and defeating working this way on each project and ultimately it led to me dropping them as a client. Inconsistency in leadership is identical in nature, and equally defeating for your employees. Successful leaders demand consistently excellent performances. Don’t move the target on your team then be surprised when the precision drastically suffers.
The necessity for authenticity in leadership cannot be underestimated. Modeling desired behaviors, holding yourself to a higher standard of excellence, genuinely praising your employees and having a consistent standard of expectations all lead to comprise being authentic. Having the right blend of professional skills and credibility in the eyes of your peers, employees and stakeholders is important for any CIO, CTO or technology leader.
Each Friday, for the next several weeks, a new post will be released with another key characteristic of what it takes to be successful in technology leadership. These posts are in no particular order; I’d love for you to provide feedback and let me know if you think I’m missing something, or if you’d like to see a particular trait addressed please feel free to email me, or leave a comment. I’m hoping this will be a useful dialogue about what is necessary to become a successful technology leader.