Archive for category Information Technology
In a recent master’s course we were asked which we would choose – a leader with technical competence or more influence. Technical competence is of great importance to our group since it is a Masters in Computer Information Systems. The majority of us, of course, said we would like a little of both, but we also leaned heavily toward influence over technical competence. Technical competence is wonderful when it comes to understanding the micro-level of a project or a plan. For instance, a software developer would be overwhelmed, unproductive or even destructive without technical knowledge of the problem and the solution. However, the upper levels of leadership need different skills.
This is not to imply that leaders are not technically savvy, far from it. The relevant skills of middle or executive level leaders are more in their influence or power to get things done. Let’s explore the software developer mentioned a moment ago a little deeper. This person could be a wizard when it comes to creating the next iPhone or Android app, but maybe he or she really likes to work from home or might need a nice quiet space to focus. While the upper leaders are not the ones doing the coding work, they are ensuring the software developer has the time and the tools he or she needs to do the work required.
The leader understands the needs of the business and translates those needs to the team. The team’s work is incredibly valuable; it is up to the leader to make sure it is appropriately applied or understood. What if the software developer needs additional resources – maybe a deadline extension or overtime pay? It is up to the leader to work out issues with customers, other departments or higher leaders in order to keep the entire project on task while supporting the team. That is the true skill of a leader – getting others (over whom they have no authority) to support his or her team. In order to do this, leaders MUST have at least a baseline of technical knowledge, but they need a lot more influence. In my opinion, I would much rather work with or for a leader who has the ability to get me what I need to get the job done instead of being technically fluent.
– Lori Buresh
CEO, The Professional Development Team
While reading an article in this week’s Bloomberg Businessweek regarding Jim Messina and his efforts as a campaign manager, one message is crystal clear – technology must be embraced and used to get a particular viewpoint communicated to the masses. But what about individuals? While many people race to get the latest gadget, app or software, there are plenty of people out there who still resist placing an infinite amount of trust in technology. To be honest, Team Reluctance has a point. With security breaches almost daily, costing people and companies thousands if not millions of dollars, confidence can be shaken easily regarding personal information protection. Also, pushing to store business data and information in the cloud sounds like a great idea; however, anyone who has experienced an outage or a loss of data will attest that online storage may be like putting all of your eggs in one basket with potentially catastrophic results. Should Team Reluctance win out over Team Technology?
Nope. The fact you are reading this blog means technology has major advantages that should be valued. One of the biggest benefits is communication. Basically, in one generation, the world shrank. It was pointed out during a generational discussion I facilitated last week that the Millennial generation is global. No longer do we rely only on the daily newspaper or the evening news to understand the world around us – and I do mean world. Think about this: It is now commonplace to chat with someone thousands of miles away, something unheard of without high phone bills only twenty years ago. Texting, tweeting, Facebook posts, blogging, even email – all of these activities are different media in which to communicate. The messages we share are potentially destined to go around the entire world! This can be a key asset for businesses looking to spread their message. Whether it is a political campaign, advertising pitch or just a point of view, technology today gives organizations the opportunity to connect with people on a personal level faster and more in-depth than ever.
When it comes to smaller groups or tasks, though, leaders have to balance which side they are on – Team Reluctance or Team Technology. It really depends on the group they are leading and the goal in mind. If the group is savvy with communication tools like texting or Skype, leaders should explore those communication options in order to help their group be more efficient. The team may even feel held back if they are not able to use their available like texting! On the other hand, if the people who comprise the group are not ready to integrate that type of communication into their work habits, leaders should avoid that type of tool. When it comes to work habits, leaders may make group members uncomfortable or confused, which may slow down productivity if the leader pushes new technology into an unwelcoming environment. Bottom line: Leaders need to read their team and use the most efficient tools for that particular group. Leaders, therefore, must be technically competent in order to be on either side of the equation regarding technology integration.
CEO, The Professional Development Team
We at The Professional Development Team believe information technology is the backbone of business however it comes down to how technology is viewed (and therefore supported) within an organization. For companies that have a foundation older than about thirty years, it is possible information technology was NOT at the forefront of the business. The inclusion and incorporation of technology must then be assimilation between existing processes and new education. The divergence between the backbone and the speed bump comes during this integration and eventual support of the technology. Technology becomes a speed bump when there are large gaps between the business need and the technology capability or purpose.
Think of it this way, a person buys a car today and is happy. In ten or fifteen years, does this person have the same car? If yes, did they maintain it along the way – change the oil, tires etc.? Did they change cars? Information technology is the same way for business – companies need to have IT to succeed much like people (usually) need cars. However just ‘having’ IT is only the beginning for the technology to truly be an asset to the organization. First, IT must be aligned with the business need. What does the organization want to accomplish? What are the specifics regarding the desired output or knowledge? That is the first and biggest key to IT success. Then, technology must at a minimum be maintained but should be upgraded and enhanced along the way. Once business leaders recognize the need for technology and integrate IT into the forefront of their decision-making (instead of an afterthought) then technology, much like a well-tuned car, will do wonders for the company.
CEO, The Professional Development Team
Welcome to The Professional Development Team Blog! We will use this forum to write about leadership topics, as well as thoughts regarding business processes in the Four States area. While blogs are meant to be a one-way method of communication, we hope you will take the time to comment on our posts. Let us know what you think!
Since most people have never heard of our company, this first post should be a proper introduction. We started The Professional Development Team to make a difference for Joplin-area businesses by providing process management and leadership training. Companies are rebuilding after the tornado and existing organizations are looking ahead to the future. We all have to do more with less, so the first place to look is how to drive out waste, drive down cost, and drive up productivity using the tools a business has today. Process changes will not be effective or may not be implemented at all without also supporting the leadership and culture of an organization. Leadership drives a business to achieve goals and effectively implement long-term changes.
Our whole focus is to help businesses grow and thrive in this area. We are not here to tell a company how to run – they already know how. We are here to focus on their problem areas in order to guide their team to a solution that is actionable and do it quickly. Process management includes change which can be difficult or even scary for employees to adopt. We want to help managers grow into leaders and leaders grow into great leaders so that a company can adapt and change with the full support of their employees.