Manager-Leader Gap in IT Strategy

So who is the visionary in this bunch?

A leader, a manager, and a business person?

An illustration of the manager/leader gap discussed earlier (here) is drawn in this back-and-forth among Glenn Whitfield (here), Andrew Meyer (here), and others.  All good stuff, though the last two comments on Glenn’s post — from Long Huynh at CIO Assistant and Glenn himself — get closest to my perpsective.

The idea that a CIO can perform well by operating with one style is pernicious.  Unfortunately, many reinforce this idea — see this State of the CIO 2007 feature from CIO Magazine that identifies CIO archetypes (and even offers a “self-assessment” tool for self-archetyping).

I wonder…how can a single-archetype CIO be successful when his/her IT portfolio must contain very disparate types of projects and programs (e.g., “stay in the game” vs. “win the game” vs. “change the game” initiatives)?

Does a leader change only people?

Eric Dana Hansen added a comment to my recent “Manager vs. Leader definition” post.  In it, he refers to a work of his that touches on leadership.  If I’m reading him right, his take is that

management is based upon processes, order, and controls and that leadership is more about developing the potential in others. 

In my comment, I agreed with the first part about management, especially its emphasis on order and controls. However,

I’m don’t buy into leadership being strictly about people….  The reason I like the “Stultz” definition [referenced] in the post is [that] in changing the system, leaders must acknowledge and address all segments of the “people, process, technology” triad.

Also, the blogosphere must be on a manager vs. leader kick.  I just noted a couple of posts by Glenn Whitfield (here) and Andrew Meyer (here) that touch on an interesting dimension of the topic: IT strategy and alignment.

I’ll comment more directly on those tomorrow.

“Manager vs. Leader” definition

In today’s Investor’s Business Daily I saw an article about Jack Stultz, the Lt. General who is chief of the Army Reserve Command.  It’s worth a read, especially when Stultz discusses the cross-pollination among his various military and civilian (at Procter and Gamble) experiences:

“P&G valued a lot of what I brought from my military experience. A lot of my successes in the military are from things I brought from P&G.” At P&G, Stultz learned the difference between those in charge:
• Managers are committed to improving a system’s efficiency.
• Leaders see a lack of production and take risks to change the system.

Stultz goes on to talk about the “violent conflict” that can be generated by the manager-leader gap.  

I relate to that conflict, especially since it often rages within me.  I’m pretty good at both strategy and execution, but my temperament is such that I’m never satisfied with doing only one or the other. I enjoy running the entire race: identifying openings, designing an approach to exploit them, then running and optimizing that new system until it demonstrates.  However, I then get the itch for the next challenge.

NOTE: I’m adding new posts on this topic…the first is on managers and influence and is here.

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