Empathy – The Bedrock of Leadership

Empathy – The Bedrock of Leadership

“No one cares how much you know until they know how much you care.
Theodore Roosevelt  

My career in leadership started in 1980 when I was asked to take on the role of the Lead Technical Support Analyst in “Data Processing” at a custom manufacturing company in the Midwest.    

(Note to audience:  For those younger than 40, Data Processing was a term used for Information Technology or Information Systems back in the earlier days, along with EDP – Electronic Data Processing) 

My entry into data processing was by luck, and I was truly feeling my way through it. I had only been in data processing” for a little over three years when I was asked to take on more responsibilities and promotion into a lead technical support role. My job at the time was a lead computer operator, and I did not believe I was ready for a promotion. I was going to college for Computer Science, trying to fulfill my role as the mother of two very young children, a wife, and I was working nights to reduce the time I spent away from my children. Talk about trying to do it all! I was the only female in our department, and I was most often referred to as the “girl. We have progressed! 

The technical support role was new to the department, and the responsibilities were my responsibility to create. By accident, I had formed the concept of my role and responsibilities by assuming leadership responsibilities without asking permission. I took on responsibilities such as creating the job schedule, instituting incident and change management (we didn’t even know what to call it back then), asset management, and other ITSM like controls. We didn’t have industry standards to pull from back then. It just made sense to me. 

I am getting off track here while remembering those early days. At the time, I was nothing less than afraid. Part of my fear was that my male peers had longer tenure and would resent me for the propmotion.  Why me?  Was I good enough?  

I lamented my concerns to a well-seasoned engineer who I often looked to for sage advice and counsel. His advice to me was this: 

“Take care of your people, and they will take care of you.”    

“Is it that simple? I said, “How do I do that?”  His reply as I recall it over all these years: 

“You are not there to be their friend, but that doesn’t mean you should not be friendly. If you show them you care about their well-being, they give back their best. It is that simple.” 

Over the years, his advice remained my mantra and cemented itself as one of my core personal principles. It earned me the moniker of “Dragon Slayer. More importantly, it earned me the mutual respect of trusted team members with whom I remain good friends. It is my secret sauce that isn’t much of a secret.      

It all comes down to EMPATHY, a trait that most do not think of as a leadership characteristic. Empathy is the ability to experience and relate to the thoughts, emotions, or experiences of others. Empathy is more than simple sympathy, which is being able to understand and support others with compassion or sensitivity. 

Let’s move beyond my own experience and let me tell you a little about another leader’s experience – Bob Chapman.  

I’ve not had the personal honor of meeting Bob Chapman. I came across him in the book Everybody Matters by Raj Sisodia.  

Bob Chapman is the CEO of Barry-Wehmiller. Barry-Wehmiller is a $1.5b global manufacturing company of capital equipment and engineering consulting with about 7,000 employees. No big deal. Except their corporate message is very different. 

http://www1.barry-wehmiller.com 

Their home page message is unique. On the main page, in the center, you immediately see a slide show with the following message: 

We’re Building A Better World.” 

When you link to their “Our Culture” page it starts with:   

Step inside any one of our 100 locations around the globe, and you’ll feel it: a culture of care, compassion, and human connection.  

…and it ends with  

Better me, better we, better world. 

Wow!  Who could not see themselves moving mountains in a culture with this type of leadership at the helm?  

The company principles do not talk about profits, results, or income. They talk about leadership, about people, and appreciation of individual team members and their families.  

This direction was set by and is continued to be led by Bob Chapman. He walks the talk. Here is what I learned about Bob. 

 Somewhere in the l990’s Bob had an epiphany. He came to realize that the value of his company hinged on the people. He realized that as a leader he was responsible “to provide the care of nurturing employees to be all that they were meant to be?” and that “leadership calls us to be stewards of the special lives entrusted to us every day.” 

I love how he ties the state of the world back to leadership. How we treat employees and how they feel about themselves as a result of our treatment, has a direct influence on their relationships at home. How many people have arrived home after a bad day in the office and felt good about their interactions that evening with their spouse, family, or even their pet? He goes on to correlate happiness in the home to the outlook we have in the rest of our lives. It makes sense to me. 

Stewardship of each other is the missing link to the success of our society, in our companies, and our families. We are not taught caring in school or our textbooks. We are taught the mechanics of the bottom line. We don’t hear about it in management or leadership training. We are not taught or told that we have the power to inspire, influence, and positively impact employees or other people in our lives. We don’t believe we need to take responsibility for the success of our employees. The reverse is discussed. We are told the employee is the architect of their career and success. And they are, along with our help.  

Do we believe that as leaders we are responsible for our employee engagement? Do we commit to accountability for shaping the culture of that engagement? Do we have the power to refocus our energy on society and becoming a caring leader? Can we envision the power of empathy? I can.  

What is the real reason we hold back? Why are you holding back? 

Your thoughts? 

Until next time, have an effective week! To further this week’s conversation, schedule time with me and let’s talk! 

Check it out: It is not enough for corporations to have IT systems and expect them to deliver strategic value to them. See our complimentary IT Governance Framework to help you to help you regulate, monitor and govern the value of your 2019 IT decisionsDownload here… 

Mary Patry 
IT Executive Advisor and Leadership Coach   
 480.393.0722 (AZ) 
 Mary.Patry@iteffectivity.com 
LinkedIn: http:// www.linkedin.com/in/mleonardopatry 

Let’s Talk sponsored by ITeffectivity.com an IT Executive Coaching and Advisory practice targeting CIO’s challenge of leading and delivering business solutions with a focus on effective people and process capabilities. Discover the possibilities by scheduling a complimentary strategy session with Mary Patry. 

Integrity as if Your Success Depends on it.

Integrity as if Your Success Depends on it.

“The supreme quality for leadership is unquestionably integrity. Without it, no real success is possible, no matter whether it is on a section gang, a football field, in an army, or in an office.”Dwight D. Eisenhower  

Great quote!  

What is INTEGRITY anyway? The dictionary describes it as “adherence to moral and ethical principles; soundness of moral character; honesty”. Integrity is our moral compass.  

If I could instill only one value to live by, it would be this:  Titles, jobs, and friendship will come and go, but integrity is forever. True success is not possible without integrity.  

Simply put, INTEGRITY is always doing the right thing, whether someone is looking or not. It takes courage to do the right thing, no matter what the consequences will be. Building a reputation of integrity takes years to develop. It only takes a second to lose, so never allow yourself to ever do anything that would damage your integrity. 

I wish it was that simple. Someone with INTEGRITY knows the right from wrong. Sometimes we wonder if the leaders of the world even know what right is.  I am not trying to be flippant with that last statement.  

Note to self:  Okay, stay positive here Mary! 

There is a lot of, maybe too much, opportunity to interpret integrity and the right thing in everyday life. For example, if I believe something is right, and I support or act on it, am I acting with integrity? I would say yes. At the same time, if your beliefs do not match mine – am I still acting with integrity? I believe so, but others may not agree.   

Fortunately, in business, it is not as complicated. We have compliance policies and standards to help keep everyone on the right path. One example of a policy is GAAP – generally accepted accounting practice.  

Generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP) refer to the standard framework of guidelines for financial accounting, generally known as accounting standards or standard accounting practice. These include the standards, conventions, and rules that accountants follow in recording and preparing company financial statements.  

Other examples of key policies may be your company’s Computer Use, Sexual Harassment, Discrimination, or Gift Acceptance policies. As a leader, are you on solid ground in understanding the intent and the why behind the policy? Are you a living example of the purpose behind each corporate policy?  

Policy, laws, and standards are critical to corporate ethics and integrity. The policies clearly state what you can or cannot do and what the ramification will be if you break policy. If a point is not clear, you owe it to yourself and your team to assure you understand the intent or to get clarification. Policy does not eliminate the need for leaders to use common sense and take account of their actions. Rules cannot be written for every circumstance. 

Leaders can get into trouble with integrity if the act in ways that are not congruent with their proclaimed values. Let me give a simple example:   

 A new CIO develops an IT strategy that includes mission, vision, values, and principles without the involvement of his or her IT leadership team. One of the values stated is “We are a true team in which everyone can contribute expertise”, and one of the principles is “We work as a team and communicate openly.” Despite his or her good intent and perhaps perfect strategy, how much integrity has he or her built with his team? Not much, if any. No matter what words this CIO uses, the direct reports and functional teams will find it challenging to believe him.     

As leaders, we are accountable for the integrity of our life and behavior. Settling for anything less compromises the trust that we desperately need from others. We must stay true to our values and principles as they will be reflected in our team members’ actions. Only then are we leading with integrity and able to look at ourselves in the mirror with honesty.  

Until next time, have an effective week! To further this week’s conversation, schedule time with me and let’s talk! 

Check it out: It is not enough for corporations to have IT systems and expect them to deliver strategic value to them. See our complimentary IT Governance Framework to help you to help you regulate, monitor and govern the value of your 2019 IT decisions. Download here… 

Mary Patry 
IT Executive Advisor and Leadership Coach   
 480.393.0722 (AZ) 
 Mary.Patry@iteffectivity.com 
LinkedIn: http:// www.linkedin.com/in/mleonardopatry 

Let’s Talk sponsored by ITeffectivity.com an IT Executive Coaching and Advisory practice targeting CIO’s challenge of leading and delivering business solutions with a focus on effective people and process capabilities. Discover the possibilities by scheduling a complimentary strategy session with Mary Patry. 

Confidence – The Enemy of Fear

Confidence – The Enemy of Fear

 “You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, ‘I lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.’” – Eleanor Roosevelt 

There is confidence and there is arrogance.   

On the surface, they look similar. They are far from the same.  Arrogance can look like confidence, but it is never leaderlike. 

A leader with confidence understands their strengths and acknowledges their weaknesses. They surround themselves with people whose strengths make up for their weaknesses or faults. 

An arrogant manager tends to hide their weaknesses by surrounding themselves with people with similar or worse faults. They mask their lack of self-confidence with cockiness. 

Enough about arrogance, let’s talk about confidence. 

What does confidence look like? A leader with self-confidence has a presence. They hold their head high. They are naturally warm and engaging. They speak with conviction and answer questions concisely and confidently. At the same time, they will readily admit when THEY don’t know something. Their confidence is rooted in competence. 

A confident leader will do what they believe is right, even if they know they will be criticized. This confidence enables them to take calculated risks in order to achieve better results. It allows them to admit when they are wrong or off course. They learn from their mistakes and freely share the lessons learned. Their confidence breeds confidence in everyone surrounding them. They are trusted as they will give credit where credit is due.  At the same time, they accept compliments and will express pride in accomplishments. They have a sense of self-esteem. There is no value in their waiting for others to acknowledge their success. 

People without confidence have a fear of accepting new challenges. They fear failure and avoid taking risks. They will work hard to cover up their mistakes and hope no one notices or worse yet – they will blame others. The behavior behind their fears holds them back in their career and their lives. 

Most important, confidence breeds confidence in your actions, directions, and decisions by your customers, peers, and team members. Confidence is key to your success as a leader.  

What is getting in your way of realizing confidence in yourself?  

Can one build self-confidence? Yes! It is not easy, but it is achievable.

Let me share my own story.   

There was a time in my life where I lived my life supported by someone I dearly loved and then he passed away suddenly in 1999. A piece of me died with him. To be candid, I went into a downward tail spin. I could not see my way forward without his love and support. I didn’t know how I could go on. As I searched for meaning, I would often spend my days in the Boston Museum of Art. While on one of my visits, I discovered this little square magnet.  

It touched my heart like fireworks. At that point in my life just getting up scared me. I realized at that moment that I was in charge of my destiny and it was about time I took charge.  From that day forward, this magnet quote became my life mantra and it still is today. 

Let me share the WHY behind these words.  

These words are often attributed to the Eleanor Roosevelt. I ‘ve never found a publication where she directly said this exact phrase. Nevertheless, a woman I had long admired grew into my hero as I searched for the meaning behind the words on this magnet.

My search led me to a discover a small book of life lessons by Eleanor Roosevelt published in 1960: “You Learn by Living” with a chapter titled “Fear—the Great Enemy” in which she discusses the problems she experienced due to her excessive fears. She goes on to say in the book:  

Fear has always seemed to me to be the worst stumbling block which anyone has to face. It is the great crippler. Looking back, it strikes me that my childhood and my early youth were one long battle against fear. 

As she grew and matured, she made a conscious effort to reduce her fears and build her confidence by tackling the tasks that caused her apprehension head on. She explains her reasoning:  

“The danger lies in refusing to face the fear, in not daring to come to grips with it. If you fail anywhere along the line it will take away your confidence. You must make yourself succeed every time. You must do the thing you think you cannot do. 

 How does lack of confidence show up in an IT Leader? 

To achieve personal growth, it is sometimes necessary to move outside of your comfort zone. Lack of confidence creates fears and limiting beliefs. Unjustified fears can constrain exploration, openness to innovative ideas, and positive development for both you and your teams.  Once a limiting belief is triggered and activated, your outlook changes. You will start to see everything through a filter of fear. You will look for validation daily that your decisions are good enough. Sometimes this will prevent you from making a decision at all or rejection due to difference of opinion. For example, when someone offers an opinion that differs from yours’ in a meeting, instead of acknowledging the comment or being open to discussing it, you remain silent, or immediately get defensive and start beating yourself up. ‘Why didn’t I think of that? I’m not good enough.’  I’ve seen this happen. It is a vicious self-fulfilling downward spiral.   

The good news is that we can rewire our brain with focus and intention. Although our fears and limiting beliefs won’t completely disappear, over time, they lose their power over our daily thoughts and actions. Techniques of identifying and addressing the fears behind confidence issues help to support more positive thinking and self-talk. 

I am here for you if you need a safe place to discuss your barriers to confidence or if you need help pulling yourself out of the spiral.     

Until next time, have an effective week! To further this week’s conversation, schedule time with me and let’s talk! 

Check it out:  It is not enough for corporations to have IT systems and expect them to deliver strategic value to them. See our complimentary IT Governance Framework to help you to help you regulate, monitor and govern the value of your 2019 IT decisions. Check it out by downloading here 

 

 

Mary Patry 
IT Executive Advisor and Leadership Coach   
 480.393.0722 (AZ) 
 Mary.Patry@iteffectivity.com 
LinkedIn: http:// www.linkedin.com/in/mleonardopatry 

Let’s Talk sponsored by ITeffectivity.com an IT Executive Coaching and Advisory practice targeting CIO’s challenge of leading and delivering business solutions with a focus on effective people and process capabilities. Discover the possibilities by scheduling a complimentary strategy session with Mary Patry. 

Leading through IT Decisions

Leading through IT Decisions

“IT governance is the responsibility of executives and the board of directors, and consists of leadership, organizational structures, and processes that ensure that the enterprise’s IT sustains and extends the organization’s strategies and objectives.”IT Governance Institute 

How Do You Assure You are Leading through IT Decisions?  

IT Governance.   

In today’s world, IT governance can mean many things and refer to various IT frameworks. In many cases, IT governance is confused with simply implementing standards to report results and compliance. Fundamentally, IT governance is about establishing a structure to align your IT Strategy with your business strategy  

IT Governance is defined as the decision rights and accountability for assuring good behavior in our use of IT. The IT Governance Framework can be applied to any institution and is typically for use by CIO’s and top IT Management. It is a framework of decision rights and oversight that is intended to drive maximum value out of all information technology investments, minimize risks, use resources effectively, and assure alignment with a company’s most important strategic business goals and objectives. 

Why is IT Governance Important?  

The importance of IT governance is that it achieves desired outcomes and behavior. The relationship between IT governance and effective value creation of IT investments has long been recognized and is often recognized as the reason for achieving excellence in the management of IT. It provides a focus on cost and allows effective communication between IT and the business by establishing joint accountability for IT investments. Governance offers a formula for success which allows leaders to be active in the strategic management of IT and to make sure the following basic elements are in place:   

  • Alignment 
    Governance works hand in hand with IT portfolio management to align IT investments with agency objective which enables managers to improve responsiveness to challenges and manage current and future IT investments. It provides transparency into IT investments and ensures corporate resources are utilized in support of the business goals.    
  • Decision Making
    Governance allows leadership to actively commit to improving the management and control of IT activities and outcomes.  
  • Resource Balancing 
    Proper management of critical resources enables control in planning and organizing IT initiatives. This gives managers the ability to ensure adequate IT support is available for current and future IT investments. 
  • Risk Management 
    Proactive risk management ensures that IT managers and leaders are aware of the risks associated with the IT initiatives and provides the basis for the implementation of risk mitigation strategies. 
  • Execution and Enforcement 
    Governance provides IT managers with the framework to manage and prioritize IT initiatives and demands through a single point. It allows for the standardization of technology platforms and helps managers make informed decisions on IT initiatives. 
  • Accountability
    Effective governance is about accountability. It enables IT managers to enforce the responsibilities that relate to IT program management. 

What are the Challenges with Implementing IT Governance  

IT governance cannot exist in isolation and is a process by which IT decisions are made. Rolling up all IT investments and projects under the IT leadership provides a complete and comprehensive view of the IT portfolio. This enables leadership to make better strategic decisions and proactively manage and evaluate future investment as a group. IT portfolio management also provides the mechanism for effective IT governance and reporting 

Establishing IT governance is not a one-time implementation or achieved by a mandate; it requires commitment from executive leadership. It is an activity that requires continuous improvement. The challenges faced by CIOs are numerous and complex. 

In my experience, the following reasons are the most common factors prohibiting the effective implementation of IT governance:  

  • Lack of implementation and adherence to good portfolio management practices and processes
  • Undefined IT principles
  • Decision authority not properly defined and/or delegated
  • Poorly structured decision boards
  • Lack of alignment of IT Strategy to Business Strategy 
  • Decisions are not monitored
  • IT Policy not defined or adhered to 
  • Procurement of IT services, systems, and resources are not managed 

IT governance spans the organizations policies and practices that provide for IT management.  Effective implementation leads to effective communication, reliable data, clarity of accountability, and respected decision making. 

Conclusion 

It is not enough for corporations to have IT systems and expect them to deliver strategic value. IT governance is important and will ensure the effective and efficient use of IT to achieve the organizations business goals. Each company has unique needs, and the approach to governance will vary with the culture and structure of the organization. Implementing good IT governance requires a framework based on three major elements:  

  • Effective structure 
  • Effective process 
  • Effective communication 

To achieve maturity ensures that IT is working as effectively as possible to maximize cost savings and to recognize the benefits of each IT investment. It also ensures that the investments are consistent with the organization’s business strategy.   

I am here for you if you want to discuss your IT Governance needs and challenges. In the meantime, download our complimentary IT Governance Framework eBook to help you to regulate, monitor, and govern the value of your 2019 IT decisions. Check it out here 

Until next time, have an effective week! To further this week’s conversation, feel free to schedule time with me and let’s talk! 

Mary Patry 
IT Executive Advisor and Leadership Coach   
 480.393.0722 (AZ) 
 Mary.Patry@iteffectivity.com 
LinkedIn: http:// www.linkedin.com/in/mleonardopatry 

Let’s Talk sponsored by ITeffectivity.com an IT Executive Coaching and Advisory practice targeting CIO’s challenge of leading and delivering business solutions with a focus on effective people and process capabilities. Discover the possibilities by scheduling a complimentary strategy session with Mary Patry.