Browsing the archives for the management tag.

CIO Delusions of Leadership

Leadership, Random
Pradco published a whitepaper entitled “What it takes to be a CIO” in September 2009, and I just ran across it. It is striking in several ways. First, I have to mention that Pradco is an assessment company that works a lot in the IT space – this is their bread and butter work. Second, this information is based on an ad hoc survey of 36 CIOs at a March 2009 IT Leaders Conference. So the data is not statistically significant, but the tone of the self-report data is interesting.
The CIOs acknowledged that managerial skills are important and 69% of them said that was a key factor for themselves in getting hired. 77% of the CIOs further believe that their leadership skills are as well developed as their technical skills. They are quite confident in themselves and 90% of them are satisfied with their own performance. This is striking, because CIOs have notoriously short tenures (average about 6 years) and one in four gets let go for poor performance. I guess for these survey respondants, those statistics apply to the other guys.
Some of the CIO self-confidence is necessary to perform in a C-level job. There is some interesting research that shows that many C-level executives demonstrate clinically significant levels of narcissism. But that is a topic for another day.
Overall this whitepaper is short on meaningful conclusions, but I took away two things. One is the fact that CIOs recognize the importance of leadership skills. This is promising – they should start expecting leadership from themselves and direct reports. Technical skills alone are not enough. Second is that the group of CIOs lacks self-awareness about their own skills as leaders. If they were all as good as they claim, then IT groups across the country would be functioning flawlessly. Personal insight and awareness is an important factor in career development. I encourage you to look at your own strengths and opportunities more critically. You have to admit to your opportunities, before you can improve on them.




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Resistance to a Broader Role

Broader role, Geek 5

In the last post, we discussed how introversion could affect leadership. Introverts sometimes resist moving into broader roles or taking leadership positions. Resistance to a broader role is one of the Geek 5. There are some other geek tendencies that can also get in the way of career advancement.

It is hard to move from a technical role into a broader role.  It is hard to give up the very skillset that has made you successful.  Over your career, you’ve probably been rewarded for technical accomplishments.  You’ve gotten recognition, kudos and monetary rewards.  It is also familiar, and you are almost guaranteed ongoing success.   It’s hard to move from that comfort zone to a stretch role – such as a leadership position.

Another common point of resistance is not wanting to give up the technical work itself. Moving up the ladder frequently means taking on more management duties and doing less of the technical work. Most geeks are in their line of work, because they are fascinated with the technical details of what they do. They often see the technical work (programming, R&D, analytics, medicine, etc.) as a pure scientific pursuit. Management work, on the other hand, is regarded as bureacratic nonsense.

This is a self-limiting and, frankly, disrespectful attitude.  Management is a tough role.  The challenge is less of a technical nature and more of a people and strategic nature.  A good manager and leader has a hard-won skillset that is part science and part art.  We’ve all seen bad managers, so it is easy to see why they sometimes get a bad rap.  Even so, a good manager can have a tremendous impact on the team and productivity and other accomplishments.  So, broaden your world.  Give management a chance and you may find that the challenges are equally thrilling and sometimes even tougher to master.

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