Leadership is the result of using one’s formal role and personal abilities to motivate and influence. Successful leadership involves managing one’s self and relationships with others to move toward specific business goals.
The leadership competencies that we use for leadership growth were developed through two different research projects. The first interviewed 3000 leaders to identify the top ten competencies and then asked them to choose the top three from the ten most frequently identified choices. The second project involved an advisory panel of C-level leaders, middle managers, consultants and researchers. Here are some of the observations:
- With speed so important, leaders have to be much more decisive when addressing rapid changes to technology and business drivers. All need to be more technically savvy and able to lead complex, matrixed organizations.
- Leaders must thrive on excitement and intrigue dealing with people at all levels of the organization, planing for change, leveraging the critical nature of technology for business, dealing with “wild and crazy” stakeholders and vendors, and not worry about being under-appreciated, and almost always blamed as the cause of any major mess-ups.
This research was done in my company in 2005. The comments were made by successful IT Leaders. When the research was done, it became clear that the only difference between IT Leaders and other leaders was the technology. Now that everyone has technology, the difference is, well, there is no difference.
Technology is nifty but is driving some seriously not nifty issues including:
- Addiction to multitasking and being busy. But what are we busy doing?
SOLUTION: Vision and Values => Strategy => Projects => Prioritization of work. Map your attention.
- Fear creates blind spots
SOLUTION: Trimetrix EQ® assessment and Growth Curve Growth Plan. Map your strengths and opportunities to focus on getting where you want to go.
- Emails create half the understanding needed
SOLUTION: Get face to face and make your team pick up the phone.
- Confusing collaboration as a replacement for accountability
SOLUTION: Project Plans = One task, one person, one due date.
- Too much or not enough process
SOLUTION: Project Charter in 45 minutes or less. Get real.
- Forgetting the Context.
SOLUTION: Tell them "WHY?" through strategic Organizational Change.
- Calling what you hit the target.
SOLUTION: Measure what you value. Metrics drive performance.
- Self-understanding - Who am I? What do I believe? What are my strengths and challenges?
- Working with others - How are we all different? How can I motivate and influence others?
- Integration - Given that each leadership situation is unique, how do I build resiliency to meet the need?
The seed of leadership is in everyone. Each person has a unique ability to be the leader they were meant to be. Forcing yourself to look like somebody else's ideal is stress inducing and ignores your own natural leadership talents.
Instead, identify and leverage your natural leadership strengths while minimizing your weaknesses. Leadership is a complex, fluid undertaking. A leader must be able to adapt constantly. Interestingly, your strengths are also your weaknesses. As people succeed, they tend to limit the competencies they bring to each situation to the ones that have been successful in the past. A middle manager promoted because of technical prowess will go right back to manipulating technology under stress. Leverage Emotional Intelligence (EQ) to teach yourself to notice and then consciously choose appropriateness.
Nurturing leadership competency is done on two levels. Leaders grow their own competencies while developing the leadership abilities of their staff. They seek technique, knowledge and self-understanding for self, along with guidance for working with the team.
"When you plant lettuce, if it does not grow well, you don't blame the lettuce. You look into the reasons it is not doing well. It may need fertilizer, or more water, or less sun. You never blame the lettuce. Yet if we have problems with our friends or our family, we blame the other person. But if we know how to take care of them, they will grow well, like lettuce. Blaming has no positive effect at all, nor does trying to persuade using reason and arguments. That is my experience. No blame, no reasoning, no argument, just understanding. If you understand, and you show that you understand, you can love, and the situation will change." -Thich Nhat Hanh Vietnamese Zen Buddhist monk
Don't get spooked by the lack of leadership in your organization. RMA can help. Learn more about IT leadership competencies in Lou Russell’s book written with Jeff Feldman, IT Leadership Alchemy, published by Pearson. For a full list of the RMA Leadership Competencies contact Brittney.