Is Leadership for you?
CXO Leadership

Is Leadership for you?

Leadership - Is Leadership for you?

Leadership comes at a cost and demands many lines of expertise. Are you ready to deliver? A CIO is no longer just an IT leader, he or she needs to be able to deliver business strategies using technology expertise. Are you there yet? Is your team behind you? The top position comes at a price to personal life. Are you ready for the balancing act? Are you willing to do what it takes to be a leader?

 

Top 6 Learning Points

  1. How do you plan a path to a successful leadership role?
  2. What role do environment, motivation and the will to help play in becoming a successful leader
  3. Having skills, goal, as well as a purpose, makes the best kind of leader
  4. While having a vision is good, you need to be flexible about the outcome, which may not always be as planned or desired
  5. Leadership qualities include some skills that need to be constantly honed- understanding the purpose, influencing others to follow, communicating the objective- and of course, creating the vision
  6. There will be some compromises on the way to being a leader- perhaps on the work-life balance?

 

Show Notes

  • One may have the ability, but motivation and the right environment is critical to developing a leader
  • Having a goal for leadership is really the biggest motivator for working towards becoming one.
  • The difference between a person who executes something already outlined, and someone who has the vision to create
  • A leader needs to have more of soft skills, about communication, being a lifelong learner, understanding how to work in teams, since technology is continuously changing.
  • Leaders think about what they can do to make the world a different place, make their organization better, or have a bigger purpose
  • Understand the vision you come out with today, may not be where you end up tomorrow.

 

Transcript Summary

Leadership comes naturally to some, while some others even with the talent need vision, skills and the ability to create a path that others can emulate. They can blossom in a conducive environment and good motivation, and then they can actually chart the course for the whole team to touch their goals. The journey will require a constant skills upgrade, especially in communication, creating and sharing a vision, but will also involve compromises on work-life balance, in most cases.

 

Transcript:

Sanjog: Our topic for today, Is Leadership for You? We are speaking with Jim Smith, CIO with the Office of Information Technology, State of Maine. We have spoken about leadership- what does it take and what you can do. There are many people who internally also debate, “Where have I aligned myself?” The goal here is to see whether everyone is a leader and we can develop and nurture someone. Alternatively, we should also have some framework or some questions that we can ask ourselves and save ourselves the trouble, pressure and the insanity that goes along with reaching the top and instead, be someone who enjoys what they do. So, what do you think is the path towards it? You may have started your journey through technology side or the business side but did you think and plan on becoming a leader? Is that how typically it works?

Jim: For me, it was the journey of discovering where I was involved in technology. However, I came out of college as a computer science graduate, when I had started as an English Major. At that time people had just started to think about technology. I was very, very lucky that I happened to get into this field, and I cannot imagine having done anything else. However, when I first walked into the job, I was a COBOL programmer back in 1980, and to think that one day I would aspire to be a CIO or other type of leader, that just wasn’t there; it was not happening that way.

Part of it, I think, was because the industry was not as well known. It is much better known today both on the entrepreneurial side and the organizational side; the pathways are much better known. However for me, it was not an accident, but it was not the destination when I started out.

Sanjog: While you did not start out thinking of being a leader, but at some point, it looks more like a deliberate attempt towards that direction, it seems calculated. The reason I bring this up is to see the kind of mindset, the behavior and attributes and everything that you need in a leader.

Jim: When I take a step back, I think about what is the definition of leadership, and why would someone want to be a leader? Is it they want to be on point, they want to be visible in a time of crisis, maybe they want to influence events? When they have a vision, they want to leave a different world, and what do they find? Alternatively, do they want to be a teacher who wants to help others? Do they want to help others in their career? At some point, you evolve towards leadership. I think you have to ask yourself, why do I want to do this? What am I contributing to the table? What can I give – that would help an organization or help me? I think once you decide that, you can work towards the pathway. But if you do not have a goal in that direction, it is more difficult.

Once you set that up, then you say, “Well, do I have the right attributes and what can I bring to the table?” It is often and part of a conversation that I think it is a mix of environment and attributes.

I think you have to sit down and ask yourselves, why do I want to do this? What am I contributing to the table? What can I give – that would help an organization or help me? I think once you decide that, you decide the pathway, then you can work towards it. However, I think if you do not have a goal in that direction, it is more difficult.

As I said, when I started COBOL programming in 1980 I could not envision the possibilities, but the world and the opportunities changed, and I changed and matured with it. My vision and aspirations changed. The other day, I was thinking about the story my wife was telling me– she teaches second grade. A student has a difficult home life as a second-grader, and she knows he is going to need some help along the way. She set him up for some recognition. My wife told him, “This is real because of your capabilities, and you are a leader.” She said he was so proud. That day on the playground, she could tell he was a leader. He reached out to other children in a leadership position. So I think that is a combination of both environment and attributes. He had the capability of doing that, but she had to help set the environment so he could grow into that type of leadership.

Sanjog: Do we have to get lucky? One might have the attributes which could be nature or nurture, but do we have to take charge of that environment to be conducive, so somebody out there is motivating me? Because there are many people who otherwise are great or could be greater, but they are like diamonds in the dust.

Jim: I think it is a combination, but I think you have to reach a little harder. I think you have to be known. If you take the technology world, you have to be known as someone is a problem solver or someone that’s going to go out and investigate and find things. When I was at another organization with a huge project going on, we had a very junior person come in and join the team. After a while, everyone realized this person was volunteering for everyone and everything. Something happens, and she would say, “Well, I do not know that, but I will figure it out.” After a while, people got to depend on her, and she got well-deserved promotions and became a leader. However, if I look back at that, I realize what she brought that to the table; the environment was there because it was a big high visibility project with a lot of senior people involved. However, then she brought something to the table that says, “I am going to figure this out. I am going to help the organization. I am going to bring my attributes to the table.”

I think a lot of these we look at and say, it is a combination. I do not think you get leadership thrust upon you. I do not think that works, but I think you have to bring something to the table and help to move within whatever environment you are in.

If you take the technology world, you have to be known as someone is a problem solver or someone that’s going to go out and investigate and find things.

Sanjog: One show we did in particular which was how to deal with linchpins, people who get the job done, who will always be raising their hand to get things done. However, there was a very distinct difference between a linchpin someone who as you mentioned volunteers and tries to take initiatives and someone who is truly a leader whom someone else would follow. You need both, but one does not mean the other. What would you say would be a differentiator, for a leader who could have started as a linchpin or perhaps not?

Jim: I think the leader has a lot of soft skills, and I think it starts with a vision. What’s the difference between a person that might execute something that someone else has outlined and then someone who has that vision? Someone who has an idea of lifelong learning, of research for understanding the industry and where the issues are. They bring more to the table than the execution part. I mean, you need both, you obviously have to execute, to set a plan, you have to find your resources, you have to be able to go to that end goal. However, I think the difference is that if someone is a leader, he or she understands his or her strengths and weaknesses. They surround themselves with people that will help, or need help; they know their approach, though they may not have the finance background. They surround themselves with the right people. However, they are going to have that vision, they are going to say, this is a journey, and this is where we are going I think.

What’s the difference between a person that might execute something that someone else has outlined and then someone who has that vision? Someone who has that idea of lifelong learning, that idea of research of understanding the industry, of understanding where issues are.

Sanjog: In any organization, you could have people with those attributes. I am not saying that leader is a leader when there is somebody following them, but how do you uniquely pick someone to be at the peak or the top of an organization, or maybe at a place where you want someone to lead? A leader means they are supposed to lead you in a given direction. What’s the differentiator between that person whom someone follows and – essentially those who follow?

Jim: I think it goes back to attributes. If you have a group of people, who is the communicator in that group? Who’s the one that can deal with multiple groups within a group and get them to move forward? It is like what I talked about before, my wife’s story, with a kid on the playground who all of a sudden became a leader because she said to him, “Well, you are a leader, you can influence this group.” I think we look for attributes and communicate. When doing a project tod... Read Full Transcript v  

Contributors

Jim Smith, CIO, Office of Information Technology, State of Maine

Jim Smith CIO, Office of Information Technology, State of Maine Jim Smith is currently the Chief Information Officer for the State of Maine. As such, he will direct and oversee all Information Technology policymaking, planning, arch... More   View all posts
Add Comment
Click here to post a comment

Subscribe to Podcast

Download Mobile App

Advertisement

FireMon-3 Steps to Gain Control of Cloud Security 300X250

Follow Us

Newsletter

Jim Smith

Login


Not Member Yet?
Register

Register

  • Minimum length of 8 characters