DELEGATION - Getting IT Done

“The best executive is the one who has sense enough to pick good men to do what he wants done, and self-restraint enough to keep from meddling with them while they do it.” - Theodore Roosevelt

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Why do you need to be skilled at delegation?  One of the major reasons managers fail to meet expectations is that they attempt to do everything themselves. There is never enough time.  There is no such thing as a team of “me”.  And someday you will want to take a much deserved vacation.  You need to delegate!

It may seem easier, or more reliable, to do it yourself than to take the time to delegate to the team members you manage.  That stance puts you in a position of always being available.  More important you are not doing being fair to yourself, you team or your employer.   Delegation develops. Delegation motivates. Effective delegation can move mountains.

I believe that the reason managers fail to delegate effectively is that they have not developed the skills needed.  

How do you effectively motivate?  Start and end with communication to increase your chance of an effective delegation. 

Communicate what you need, why you need it, how you need it, when you need it and where you need to be involved, be clear on expectations and then get out of the way.  Or in the words of Teddy Roosevelt – don’t meddle!

Let’s talk about a potential real life example.

The CEO is concerned with the ever growing IT spend.  They ask you, the CIO, to clarify your department expense spend to date and provide end of fiscal year projections.  In addition, you have been asked to compare your departments spend against industry benchmarks.  Your response to this their request is to “delegate” the research and report to the head of your IT Finance function. 

Effective delegation of this important task is to first clarify the outcome expected by the CEO and CFO. It is assumed you understand their preference for receiving information based on your prior working relationship and company culture.  At the same time you need to be specific as to what you will be delivering. The best approach I have found is to outline your understanding, approach, and description of the output.

Once concurrence is met use the same outline to delegate to a trusted team member. Use it to describe WHAT you need, WHY it is needed, HOW you expect it to be delivered, WHEN it is due, and WHERE you want to checkpoint along the way.  Let’s step through the conversation.  

  1. WHAT - Delegate as much as you can along with the authority to achieve the outcome.  Don’t pretend to delegate if you must retain all decision authority!   Be real with your self as to why you are retaining decision authority. Is it risk management? Do you have confidence in your team member or are afraid to let go?
  2. WHY – Explain the reasons for the report and the objectives and outcomes needed from the effort.  Be clear as to the confidentiality of the exercise to the point of discussing messaging in communicating to others.
  3. HOW - Attempt to leave room for creativity as to how the report needs to look.  Be open to suggestion if you were given a pre-defined report format.  There is nothing more demotivating than to have all creativity removed from a task.
  4. WHEN – When is the report due, when do you want the first draft, final draft and pre-reads to be delivered?  Seek honest feedback to the viability of meeting the timelines and be prepared to work out alternatives. 
  5. WHERE – Negotiate with your delegate as to where you should reconvene to discuss progress.  Delegation does not mean you can abdicate your obligation.  Only you can determine the situation and level of confidence in both the delegate ability to deliver on your expectation and manage accordingly.

Wrap up the conversation by asking the delegate to recap along with reiterating your confidence in him or her, assurance that no question is a bad question, and that your door is open if anything that risks the deliverable comes up.  Be available.  Be accountable.

There is never any guarantee when you rely on someone other than yourself but through clarity and communication you will improve the chance of a great outcome!   

Share you experience and lessons learned!

Conversations sponsored by – an IT management consulting practice targeting CIO’s challenge of leading and delivering business solutions with a focus on effective people, process, and technology management.  

INTEGRITY - Looking at ourselves in the mirror

“The supreme quality for leadership is unquestionably integrity. Without it, no real success is possible, no matter whether it is on a section gang, a football field, in an army, or in an office.” - Dwight D. Eisenhower

Great quote.   What is INTEGRITY anyway?  The dictionary describes it as “adherence to moral and ethical principles; soundness of moral character; honesty”

And how does it look in a leader? 

Simply put - INTEGRITY is always doing the right thing, no matter if someone is looking or not.   

I wish it was that simple. It is also knowing what the right from wrong.   I am not being flippant with that last statement. Sometimes you have to wonder if leaders in the world even know what right is.  Okay, stay positive here  Mary!

There is a lot of , maybe too much, opportunity to interpret integrity and the right thing in everyday life.  For example, if I believe something is right, and I support or act on it, am I acting with integrity.  I would say yes.   At the same time if your beliefs do not match mine -  am I still acting with integrity?  I believe so, you may not agree.

Fortunately in business it is not that complicated. We have compliance policies and standards to help keep everyone on the right path.  One example of a policy is GAAP – generally acceptable accounting practice.  Generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP) refer to the standard framework of guidelines for financial accounting, generally known as accounting standards or standard accounting practice.  These include the standards, conventions, and rules that accountants follow in recording and preparing company financial statements. Another example of a policy may be your company sexual harassment , discrimination,  or gift acceptance policies.   

Policy, laws, and standards are critical to corporate ethics and integrity. The policies clearly state what you can or cannot do and what the ramification will be if you break policy.  If a point is not clear, you owe it to yourself to get it clarified.  Policy does not eliminate the need for the leader to use common sense and take accountability of their actions. Rules cannot be written for every circumstance.  

As a leader, we are accountable for the integrity of our life and behavior. Settling for anything less compromises the trust that we desperately need from others.   We must stay true to our values and principles as they will be reflected in our team member’s actions.  Only then are we leading with integrity and able to look at ourselves in the mirror with honesty.  

Conversations sponsored by – an IT management consulting practice targeting CIO’s challenge of leading and delivering business solutions with a focus on effective people, process, and technology management.  

Conversations sponsored by – an IT management consulting practice targeting CIO’s challenge of leading and delivering business solutions with a focus on effective people, process, and technology management.  

CONFIDENCE - The enemy of fear.


There is confidence and there is arrogance.  On the surface they look similar. They are far from the same.  Arrogance can look like confidence but it is never leader like.  

A leader with confidence understands their own strengths and acknowledges their weaknesses. They surround themselves with people whose strengths make up for their weaknesses or faults.    An arrogant manager tends to hide their weaknesses by surrounding themselves with people with similar or worse faults.  They mask their lack of self-confidence with cockiness. 

Enough about arrogance, let’s talk about confidence.  

What does confidence look like?  A leader with self-confidence has a presence. They hold their head high.  They are naturally warm and engaging.  They speak with conviction and answer questions concisely and confidently.  At the same time they will readily admit when THEY don’t know something.  Their confidence is rooted in competence. 

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A confident leader will do what they believe is right, even if they know they will be criticized. This confidence enables them to take calculated risks in order achieve better results.  It allows them to admit when they are wrong or off course. They learn from their mistakes and freely share the lessons learned.  Their confidence breeds confidence in everyone surrounding them.  They are trusted as they will give credit where credit is due

At the same time they accept compliments and will express pride in accomplishments.  They have a sense of self-esteem.  There is no value in their waiting for others to acknowledge their success.  

Without confidence, people have a fear of accepting new challenges. They fear failure and avoid taking risks.  They will work hard to cover up their mistakes and either hope no one notices or worse yet – blame others. The behavior behind their fears holds them back in their career and their lives.  

Can one build self-confidence?  Yes!  It is not easy but it is achievable. 

Conversations sponsored by – an IT management consulting practice targeting CIO’s challenge of leading and delivering business solutions with a focus on effective people, process, and technology management.  


EFFECTIVE LEADERSHIP - What does it look like?

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The characteristics of an effective leader according to Lominger's Success Factors include:

  • Communication  
  • Organization
  • Confidence
  • Fair
  • Integrity
  • Influential
  • Delegation
  • Facilitator
  • Negotiation

How are these characteristics displayed in effective IT leaders?  Over the next few weeks I will share my perspective and encourage your feedback as well.

Let's start today with Communication. 

Effective IT team leaders communicate clearly recognizing where the audience is coming from. Effective communication is active listening as well as talking.  For example, communicating with the business community leadership will be quite different from communicating to a technical team member or even you’re up line management.  Absolutely avoid a condescending tone and jargon when talking with the business leader.  It is best to start with a high level statement and then flesh in as to how it affects their business and why they need to care. If it doesn't affect them and they don't need to care - then why have the conversation at all?  Listen for their feedback both in words and body language.  If they glaze over or start fiddling with their smart phone - you have lost them.  Finish the conversation with next steps to assure expectations are clear.  

Technical team members are a bit easier as you can assume they will know the jargon as well as their role in the conversation.  Don't assume they understand your expectations.  Describe the outcome you are expecting in the form of WHAT, WHY, WHEN, and WHO statements.  Always try to allow as much creativity in the HOW as possible.  If the HOW is important, don't leave it to chance - state the expectation and ask for the feedback.  One technique is to simply ask them to reiterate their understanding. Listen for their understanding by their engagement in the conversation and comfort level through their body language. Finish the discussion by jointly reviewing the agreements and follow up action steps. 

Your thoughts on communications? 

Conversations sponsored by – an IT management consulting practice targeting CIO’s challenge of leading and delivering business solutions with a focus on effective people, process, and technology management.