“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader” – John Quincy Adams
What is leadership? If you go to the dictionary, the explanation is quite simple:
- the action of leading a group of people or an organization.
“different styles of leadership”
synonyms: guidance, direction, control, management, superintendence, supervision; More organization, government “firm leadership”
- the state or position of being a leader.
- “the leadership of the party”
synonyms: directorship, governorship, governance, administration, captaincy, control, ascendancy, supremacy, rule, command, power, dominion, influence
- “the leadership of the Coalition”
The single most important capability of any leader is just that – Leadership. The overall capability of leadership is made up of many characteristics, each as important as the next.
The characteristics of an effective leader according to Success Factors include:
How are these characteristics displayed in effective IT leaders? Over the next few weeks I will share my perspective and encourage your feedback in the conversation as well.
Let’s start today with Communication.
Effective IT Lleaders communicate clearly, recognizing where the audience is coming from.
Effective communication is active listening as well as talking. For example, communicating with the business leadership community would be quite different from communicating to a technical team member or even your up-line management.
Tips for Communicating with Business Leaders:
- Avoid a condescending tone and jargon when talking with the business leader. It is best to start with a high-level statement and then flesh in as to how it affects their business and why they need to care. If it doesn’t affect them and they don’t need to care – then why have the conversation at all?
- Listen for their feedback both in words and body language. If they glaze over or start fiddling with their smart phone – you have lost them. Finish the conversation with next steps to assure that expectations are clear.
- Always follow through with commitments made! Sometimes things happen that prevent delivery. The sooner you can inform the customer of the situation, the actions to be taken to mitigate, the greater the trust you will build with them.
Tips for Communicating with Technical Team Members:
- You can assume they will know the jargon as well as their role in the conversation.
- Don’t assume they understand your expectations. Describe the outcome you are expecting in the form of WHAT, WHY, WHEN, and WHO statements.
- Always try to allow as much creativity in the HOW as possible. If the HOW is important, don’t leave it to chance -state the expectation and ask for the feedback.
- Ask them to reiterate their understanding. Listen for their understanding by their engagement in the conversation and comfort level through their body language.
- Finish discussions by jointly reviewing agreements and follow up action steps.
- Call on you heart as well as your brains and guts. There is NOTHING more powerful than the ability to understand and share the feelings of your team members.
- Utilize the CONTINUE, STOP, START model. You may have heard of this model as Start, Stop and Continue. This model is often used as a change management technique as well in performance reviews. When giving instructions or feedback to team members, I like to start with continue and end with start. It opens and closes the conversation on a positive note. Once you become comfortable with the technique, both you and the employee will appreciate its simplicity and consistency.
Here is a quick tutorial example if you have never seen it in action:
- CONTINUE: “John, I really appreciated the Red Team approach you took in addressing the problem with the Windows image. Collaborating with your team mates to find the root cause went a long way in developing a solid solution. I would like to see this approach continued, especially for the big bodacious customer impacting issues.”
- STOP: “With that, we may need to put a stop on our current practices for patching Windows. What we are doing today is consistently causing issues.”
- START: “We certainly can’t just stop patching but perhaps you can use the Red Team approach to get the team’s input into a new patching process. What do you think?”
At this point, you allow John to present his thoughts and even brainstorm somewhat. At the end of the conversation reiterate actions and commitment before scheduling your follow up.
What are your thoughts on communications?
Until next time, have an effective week! To further this week’s conversation, schedule time with me and let’s talk!
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