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)?

How do you judge character?

I got an out of left field perspective during the Dalai Lama’s visit to MIT this past week.  He was asked about model leaders and

[h]e singled out President George W. Bush for his straightforwardness, but stopped short on complimenting him for much else.  “I love him”, said the Dalai Lama of President Bush, “but as far as his policies are concerned, I have reservations.”

For me, it was a welcome reminder that disagreement doesn’t have to blind us to the virtues of others, even others with whom we passionately disagree.

PM Quote of the Day — James Michener

Character consists of what you do on the third and fourth tries

PM Quote of the Day — Howard Stern

I will never feel successful

Howard expresses the emotions that fuel his drive for success and acclaim, which I touched on earlier in my post “The Muse that is Melancholy“.  As that post notes, however, that doesn’t mean one will be happy.  And Lord knows Howard ain’t a happy man.

Missing the point about Capt. Phillips and leadership

While I was in Virginia last week, I saw this interesting piece “When to Take a Bullet” in The Washington Post (here). The WP had solicited comments from leadership experts and started the conversation with this intro:

As the heroic captain Richard Phillips reminded us when he offered himself instead of his crew to the pirates, sea captains, like all good leaders, are expected to sacrifice themselves and their personal interests to protect those under their command.

The first response by Bob Schoultz made a great point about extended loyalty — to family, friends, and community — and how Capt. Phillips’ act showed solidarity and commitment to them. The second commenter — Elizabeth Sherman — used the incident to highlight another hero: religious freedom icon Anne Hutchinson. That was OK, though if the commenter had been most interested in promoting a female hero then perhaps Wangari Maathai might have been more on point (still alive, East African, and featured in the WP just the day before).

However, the last response took a gratuitously provocative tack. I’m not sure why Marty Linsky felt the need to oppose –at least implicity — Capt. Phillips vs. Anwar Sadat. I’ll grant Sadat wisdom and bravery in changing course. Lord knows, it is hard enough for me to admit I’m wrong about anything.

But why say that what Capt. Phillips did was “not exercising leadership at all” because that was what he was supposed to do? Let’s be clear: Sadat had been on a very different course only a few years before. The Yom Kippur War wasn’t exactly a constructive way to build a new route to Jerusalem.

Seeking peace after nearly seeing your armed forces destroyed made sense, but wasn’t that exactly what Sadat was supposed to do?

Interview on PMOs by Michael Krigsman

Last week Michael and I had a great discussion on PMOs — what they are and how they contribute to IT governance and project success.  In particular, the SAP PMOs have a unique role in optimizing the success of the entire SAP ecosystem…otherwise, relations among the stakeholders can devolve into what Michael calls the IT Devil’s Triangle

The post and podcast (player is at the top of the post), are here.  Thanks to Michael for arranging this and for even taking a good photo of me!

PM Quote of the Day — Rosa Parks

I have learned over the years that when one’s mind is made up, this diminishes fear; knowing what must be done does away with fear

Drucker and Peters agree on CEO compensation

Forgot to post on an article that I saw this past weekend (Investor’s Business Daily… sorry no direct link available).   It had a brief note that

…Peter Drucker once warned that CEOs who receive 25 times more compensation that the average employee’s salary undercut the teamwork demanded by successful enterprises.

… Tom Peters…, recently urged boards to clamp down on bloated CEO pay.

I’m more of a “Druckerite” than a “Peterist”, but it is interesting that both agree.  Ideologically I have difficulty with imposed caps.  However, given the bubble has just burst, it is hard to believe that the ROI claimed by highly-paid executives was anything more than bubble-driven.

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.

%d bloggers like this: