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Cracking the Code: Four Elements Leaders Need to Engineer Success

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March 01, 2015
Tech & Leadership
Renie Cavallari

The move from team member to team lead (and all the way up to CIO) requires a skillset that people rarely develop on the job, especially in the world of technology. For many of us, our leadership experience is more of a ‘dive in and learn to swim’ approach, rather than through designed development, training and coaching on how to be a more effective leader. To take tech leadership to the next level, leaders must understand four distinct elements of any successful team operation and the true function of each.

1. Leadership Great leaders are laser-focused on what matters most: the organization’s vision and desired results. Leaders must create environments that have focused, fearless collaboration so the team is outcome-oriented rather than tactically-geared or ego driven. Like the best analysts, leaders pull together information and perspectives from multiple sources (including their own people) so that decisions are thoughtful and strategically aligned.

2. Management Good management ensures the right things are done at the right time and in the most efficient and effective way; it is the tactical execution of a strategy. By facilitating people, process and product, good management has the potential to maximize efficiency and optimize productivity. Managers are uniquely positioned to identify potential problems because they monitor and measure daily progress. Management is prescriptive; it tells people what to do. And yet, prescribing a solution won’t get people to diagnose and fix problems for themselves, which is what every leader truly wants. Solving the problems that management identifies often requires a different skill.

3. Coaching To get the most out of any team, leaders must make the most of each person on it. Coaching is the job of developing and awakening the potential of people. Coaching grows competence, allows for constant improvement and creates an environment of responsibility and accountability. It fosters employee retention and development, because people who feel they are improving want to keep on improving. Competence inspires confidence, which in turn fuels pride and enthusiasm. Ultimately, leaders give you pride in where you’re going. Coaches give you pride in yourself.

4. Alignment As the great basketball coach for UCLA, John Wooden, once said, “My job is to get them to play for the name on the front of the jersey, not the one on the back.” Coach Wooden knew that smart strategy is never enough. Leaders need to engage their organization’s people into an aligned culture so they play for the team first, and themselves second. Culture provides clarity around what you stand for and how you get things done. Without cultural alignment you cannot effectively implement your organization’s strategic direction or optimize its potential.

The Lesson Strong leaders understand their focus must be on more than the innovation, design or problems they are solving through technology, as these alone will not solve their revenue and productivity challenges. Technology complemented by a commitment to developing your people and their skills is what ultimately drives results and a ROI. To see the best results, tech leaders must blend leadership, management, coaching and alignment to support and develop their people and grow performance and profits.
Renie Cavallari is founder, CEO and chief instigator of Aspire, a captivating speaker, author, leader, coach and strategist who has driven measurable results for businesses around the world for more than 30 years. Cavallari is the author of aspire to lead, the second book in the aspire series. The book provides a 360-degree view of what it takes to lead today and includes tools to help strengthen your leadership muscle.

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