Saturday, January 19, 2013

IT Attitude: Confident, not Arrogant

Our attitude towards others determines their attitude towards us.    -Earl Nightingale

On one side, IT complains not get respected from business, on the other side, business think IT acts arrogant sometimes; such “he said, she said”, “Pride & Prejudice” dilemmas continue to stir up new debate in CIO forums, the point is not to figure out who is right and who is wrong, the key is how IT can leverage different viewpoint and keep improving leadership and service. But, how to adjust the attitude or break down the bias?

1 Make professional and "objective" judgment, is what makes one leader

Drucker has pointed out the greatest impedance to organizational success is ego. This can be seen to encompass hubris. How to show confident, not arrogant though?

Respect various POVs: We are all humans and subject to certain character strengths and weaknesses. How we get to a final decision without (or at least with minimum) personal "opinion," but professional "objective" judgment, is what makes one leader. And that means we have to consider various opinions from peers, colleagues and what we get to hear and read from information channels. Only if you are open enough (regardless of the position really) to listen and adjust, you will provide the highest level of quality and leadership to your company, teams and even yourselves.

Accountability is perhaps one of the most powerful deterrents to bad behavior: The key question is: How do you build your own accountability when it is implicit? One of the biggest problems with the CIO role "is" the accountability factor. Management teams just don't know how to evaluate the CIO role. While many CIOs can lose relevance.

The best character trait to become a leader is "Empathy": But the paradox is: The excess of empathy could be also dangerous. Sometimes people could take advantage of your empathy to have excuses. Empathy can convert apparently a professional relationship into a personal relation, When you lead people, there is a thin critical barrier between personal and professional relationships, and empathy sometimes works as a pole vault, and you can topple the strip. Empathy yes, but do not trespass the red line!

   2. Effective governance can better tame egos 

  • The purpose of strategic planning and effective governance: It is to negate these ego factors to constantly provide a challenge greater than the individual that requires them to improve and perform at ever higher levels. Such management discipline should prevent the warmth of the firefighter feeling, the desire to dominate, and the vanity of entitled gratuities. Without a challenging and well-governed environment, personalities can overpower the agenda and subsume what is organizationally necessary to what is personally desired.
  • "Listen, respect and respond" to customers & adapt to changes: Optimize business processes in order to be flexible and willing to adapt to change; for not being arrogant. Truly believe that the only way to produce valuable, sustainable and adaptable services and products is to have the capability to change. Sometimes, IT can become too reliant on what worked in the past and not challenging approach in the light of new situations and contexts. In IT such changes are more frequent than some other areas of the organization, requiring IT leaders to constantly reappraise their skills, knowledge, and approach to organizational needs. Such as how to differentiate your approach from the past; how to show why this new way offers value.

3. Constructively Breakthrough Business’s “Pride & Prejudice” 

Be humble to accept constructive criticism, but also be confident to do what it benefits for business overall.

  • Focus on better way, neither your way nor our way: What is often perceived as arrogance is what a high performing IT organization can look like from its customer’s perspective. IT folks can be great at building well designed, low-error rate process & systems, and then using them to deliver high quality, dependable service. However, that all too often gets interpreted as "do it my way", or "no, what you are doing is wrong"; when the customer is attempting to push the boundaries, often in search of greater efficiency, this comes across to them as IT being rude and arrogant.  
  • There is very rarely an 'IT arrogance' problem. It is no more prevalent than 'HR arrogance' or 'Sales arrogance': The same goes for 'Shadow IT,' which is often an immediate business requirement to acting "time-to-market," bypassing IT policies with opening doors to the Intranet. Well-enforced IT control mechanisms and a responsible IT team should minimize such actions in order to follow the Company IT Policies. The implementation of a "task force" which is to respond to any urgent business needs making ends (Business and IT) meet efficiently (allowing this process to bypass certain "usual" approval steps, but the key ones, to put in place in time that business requirement) could help "resolving" such bottlenecks, what is often perceived as arrogance is really caution to ensure security, connectivity, compatibility, and support for new technologies introduced into the enterprise.
  • Further analysis of confidence vs. arrogance: Being confident of the ability may have you deemed arrogant whether it’s being true or not. In a surrounding driven by fear, fear can make confidence appear as arrogance. How much of the "perceived arrogance of IT" is nothing more than people's displaced fear of technology or their lack of ability to understand it and its true potential.
Perspective is always in the eyes of the beholder: Business and IT need to focus more on being objective in approaches and allow for the ever-changing markets and environment. This requires a mind shift to allow for this change and allow for the element of ultimate control to be released in order for the change to take effect. The difficult part to be a great leader is the balance point: Be confident, not arrogant, be empathetic, not lack of discipline, be creative, but not destructive, be determined but not inflexible; be modest, but not be perceived as incompetent; be holistic, but not lose the focus, with such sense and sensitivity to collaborate smoothly and execute effectively.

Read more about IT Management Debate:
Three Reasons Why IT Doesn't Get Respected


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