Archive | October, 2013

Technology Leadership Series: Selfless

This is the last week of my mini-series where I write based on Brad Shorr’s “12 Most Loathsome Boss Behaviors” so I will tie a few related topics together and write about being selfless. Shorr mentions bad bosses are selfish by “credit grabbing” (#3) but there are several other points he makes that can be tied into this. Instead of talking in-depth about Shorr’s thoughts on being selfish, it would be better to talk about what a selfless leader looks like. Here are several key ways for leaders to be selfless.

Be selfless with praise. Great bosses go out of their way to praise and recognize their employees, all of their employees not just their key contributors. In “First Break All the Rules” the authors note the single most important statement to company profit, retention and engaged teams is “I have been recognized in the past 7 days.” Great leaders don’t just recognize their teams occasionally, they do so habitually. Great leaders never claim success for themselves, instead they share it with all the contributors. As Harry Truman said, “It’s amazing what you can accomplish if you do not care who gets the credit.”

Be selfless with your responsibilities. We’ve already discussed delegation as a powerful productivity tool. I firmly believe there is utility in delegation, however, I believe it is most powerful when leaders choose to delegate meaningful and visible work tot heir teams. There is an adage that I’ve heard several different times that says, “Great leaders create wins for their people.” This is absolutely true, delegating highly visible tasks allows your team to get some big wins.

Be selfless with your time.The best leaders not only consistently praise their people and go out of the way to create wins for them, they also make sure they create time for their people. A leader should never be to busy for his or her team.  Whether this means creating an open door policy for employees to speak with you on an ad-hoc basis, or scheduling a few minutes once a week with all your employees with no set agenda it is important to show your team you value them by making yourself accessible.

Being a selfless leader requires a proactive posture of offing your people the best chances to be successful. Being selfless incorporates the qualities employees look for in a dynamic leader. Sometimes being selfless means insulating your teams from criticism when they fail. No matter the practical application, the attitude of selflessness is endearing and compelling. No one wants to work for a selfish leader, so don’t be a selfish 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.

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Technology Leadership Series: Decisiveness

Continuing along with Brad Shorr’s list of the 12 Most Loathsome Boss Behaviors , the fourth on the list is indecisiveness. In many organizations, and departments, indecision can be costly; however,  for a CIO, CTO or technology manager, indecision can absolutely cripple their team and their mission. With the fast paced, dynamic, environment of AV and IT, indecision is far greater a detractor than in other environments. The good news is there are several simple ways to transition yourself into a decisive, competent leader.

Be Informed. Making a quick, knee-jerk, reactionary decision of great importance is definitely not a smart operating model. Be sure to ask the right questions, such as open ended questions- Why? What? How?- to ensure you are receiving the necessary information to put yourself in a position to make an educated decision. This process of engaging your team also creates buy in, which can be extremely important in implementing any decision.

Be Timely. “A quarterback doesn’t have the luxury of taking weeks to mull over whom to throw a pass to,” Shorr notes. Decisiveness is timely. Decisive leaders understand deadlines and priorities; organize and plan ahead to ensure decisions are delivered in a timely manner. Even the right decision is wrong if it isn’t delivered on time.

Be Accountable. In so many areas of leadership its crucial for people to be accountable. In the decision making process it’s especially important. Involving others to ensure you’re informed is critical to generating buy in; but ultimately it is the leader who must stand behind their own decisions, and see them through to the end with steadfast determination.

Decisiveness is a key strength of influential and successful leaders. Crises and issues never navigate themselves. As a leader, gather as much input from your teams as possible so that you’re making an informed decision, quality, decision. Gather this information in a timely manner, act quickly to make smart decisions sooner, rather than later. A decision can only be as good as its timing. Most importantly be accountable for your decisions as a leader. Be ready to stand behind your decisions, right or wrong. Bad decisions happen, use them as a blue print for making future decisions, not a reason to avoid making future decisions.

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.

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Leadership, Technology

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Technology Leadership Series: Focus

As I continue going through the 12 Most loathsome Boss Behaviors by Brad Shorr, I find it fascinating how accurate his thoughts are, as to which characteristics of leaders drive employees crazy. The second behavior Shorr mentions is being Perpetually Distracted. Working for a boss, or leader, who is perpetually distracted can be challenging to say the least. The converse of this, and the trait to keep in mind is focus. Not only is it important for leaders to focus to avoid being perpetually distracted; it’s also important to ensure leaders focus on things that matter.

Perpetually distracted leaders often have an inability to completely hone down on projects, giving them the level of attention to detail required to be successful in an ever changing technology landscape. Successful leaders are able to bring a laser focus to the parts of projects that matter the most. This level of focus ensures that timelines are met, that obstacles are overcome and that stakeholders are properly communicated with in a timely manner.

In order to be a successful CIO, CTO or technology leader it’s important to fully grasp that focusing on the things that matter most is crucial. Successful leaders knows when their focus is required on projects, but most importantly, when their focus is required within their own team. Focusing on when, and how, to adjust teams and resources to be most effective and efficient can increase the level of the organization’s success.

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.

 

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Leadership, Technology

Technology Leadership Series: Delegation

Lately I’ve been reading far more than I have been writing; this is definitely a good thing. Reading more often allows what I write to be better, to gather ideas and inspiration from other bloggers and writers is important. I came accross an article entitled 12 Most loathsome Boss Behaviors by Brad Shorr. I addition to being incredibly well written, this article also notes the worst possible behavior a boss can have. This article focuses on ways leaders, and for our purposes leaders in technology, can ruin a work environment or team. I’d like to slightly change his article and write, maybe for a few weeks, on the positive counterpoints to the behaviors he he mentions as “loathsome.”

The first loathsome behavior Shorr mentions is micromanagement. There is no doubt about how annoying working for a micromanager is. Constantly having a manager looking over your shoulder, or telling you how to complete a task is absolutely miserable and incredibly inefficient. CIOs shouldn’t be operating “in the trenches” with programmers and technicians, that isn’t the function of a C-Suite executive. Micromanaging is unnecessary and useless. Here are several ways to avoid micromanaging, as a leader in the technology field.

Trust your team. I’ve previously written about the importance of surrounding yourself, as a CIO, CTO or Technology Leader with the best possible people . The importance isn’t just to have a team accomplish fantastic work, although that is certainly part of it. The purpose is to be able to trust them, to have confidence in being able to hand off work to them, or delegation. Having full confidence in the people you’ve placed around you, to do their job and to lead their projects, is the quickest way to avoid micromanaging.

Delegation of big tasks, not just small tasks. Truly trusting the team you’ve assembled means trusting them to accomplish big, and important tasks, not just small trivial tasks. there is no reason for a leader not to actively delegate to her/his team.  This allows the leader to be free to concentrate on more pressing and important matters; allow the team members to be more engaged; and to make room for others to lead. Side note: true leaders make room for others to lead. Creating opportunities for others to succeed on highly visible projects is important to all true leaders.

Keep a 30,000 ft viewWhen I started in the “real world” this phrase use to annoy me, more so than any other “corporate speak”. However, I’ve come to understand the importance of this jargon. It’s easy in programming or project planning phases to get caught in the minutia, or the smallest of ideas. A successful CIO, CTO or Technology Leader must be focused on larger ideas. Avoiding being bogged down in the details is the key to leading a technology department.

Yes there is a time and a place for being “hands on” as a manager. Also, there’s a huge importance of being detail oriented and having a “fanatical attention to quality and detail” (to borrow a phrase from a former employer). However, as a general rule, avoid meddling in the details of the day to day tasks your teams work on. The unwillingness to delegate, and delegate meaningful work, often signifies a deep seeded insecurity, or need for control.

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.

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Leadership, Technology

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