We all know that it is not easy being a CIO-much is expected and failure, when it happens, is so visible. Today's CIO is expected to have a firm grasp of business strategy and direction, stay on top of a rapidly changing technology landscape, facilitate innovation and manage the IT department cost effectively. All that is asked and yet the CIO in more recent years has had a hard time getting and keeping a seat at the executive table.
Since 2007 Booz & Company has been conducting a periodic study--IT Org DNA Profiler --to help understand what drives successful IT organizations. The recent study shows that two factors-a CIO's business mandate and position in the company-can "have a significant influence" over less controllable factors and, therefore, is key to the success of the CIO and the IT organization.
If you took piano lessons as a child you were probably told by your teacher (and mother) that it was important to practice to improve your play. This concept also made its way into a joke that goes something like this:
Every team has one: the non-team player, the one who constantly complains or doesn't pull his weight or is simply a jerk of toxic proportions. Actually, many teams have a few of these people, but the damage even one can do to team performance is striking. Academic research on the impact of bad apples go decades back. A recent study by Will Felps, a professor at the Rotterdam School of Management in the Netherlands, was cited on National Public Radio as finding that one bad apple can cause team performance to tank 30- to 40 percent. Maybe managers should do something about that one bad apple.
These days when we talk about effective leadership it's fashionable to emphasize themes of happiness. How often do we hear that happy employees are more productive, or that harmonious teams perform better. These ideas aren't wrong, but without clarification they risk oversimplification. "Happy" doesn't mean cheerful and content, and high-performing teams are "harmonious" in only the broadest sense of the word.
Today I had a discussion with a friend -- who is going through a contentious divorce (is there any other kind?) -- about how the language you use in emotional situations can impact the course of everyone's behavior. Spewing expletives does not lead to understanding -- even if it makes you feel better for the moment -- nor does it allow you to feel long-term satisfaction from your actions or get your hoped for result. Likewise, having expectations that people involved in a situation will act in a particular way does not lead to those same people fulfilling your plans. It takes all parties in an engagement, agreeing upon the desired outcome and timeframe, to provide the seeds for success.
When I last wrote about this topic, I went to admittedly laborious detail about the literal impossibility of "creating" a sense of urgency in a team. This post was based on a forum discussion of the same title. The continuing discussion includes a remark that my observation is, while accurate, "entirely unhelpful."