Secrets of Communicating as a Leader

Secrets of Communicating as a Leader

It may be obvious, but I must say it anyway:  LEADERSHIP COMMUNICATION BEGINS WITH YOU.    

The word “leadership” can suggest a variety of images. For example: 

  • A political leader, pursuing a passionate, personal cause.
  • An explorer, cutting a path through the jungle for the rest of his group to follow.
  • An executive, developing her company’s strategy to beat the competition. 

Leaders help themselves and others to do the right things. They set direction, build an inspiring vision, and create something new. Leadership is about mapping out where you need to go to “win” as a team or an organization. It is dynamic, exciting, and inspiring.  

While leaders set the direction, they must also use management skills to guide their people to the right destination in a smooth and efficient way. Communication skills are paramount to the effective delivery of that guidance.  

Above all else, leadership starts with the leader. If you can’t lead yourself, how can you expect to lead others? Over the next few weeks we will discuss leading yourself, designing your own leadership vision, and building the stage from which you will communicate it. This approach will enable you to be a real leader. Lastly, we will look at techniques for testing your effectiveness as a leader.  

Let’s try something a little different by utilizing a discussion format. This could either work marvelously or I will find I am talking to myself.   I will start off the discussion by asking you to consider your response to five statements. The statements are designed to help us look introspectively with an intent of discovering where we are at in our leadership thinking. Easy! Each statement should solicit a yes or no response. 

  1. I have made it clear to my team why our department exists and how it fits into the entire organization’s picture.
    YES                         NO

  2. I can say, with confidence, that every member of my team knows who is responsible for what and when.   
    YES                         NO

  3. My team can state why and how their functions support the organization. 
    YES                         NO

  4. I have verified my team’s understanding.  
           YES                         NO

  5. I answered Yes to the first four statements. 
    YES                         NO 

 Ask yourself this:  Who doesn’t feel better when they know how they fit into the bigger picture and that the work they do is valued?   

If you answered Yes to the first four statements, what benefits are you seeing from your efforts to communicate effectively?  

If you answered “No” to any of the questions, what help do you need to support your team in their understanding?   

Let’s talk! We will continue our discussion next week with exploring leading yourself first.  

Until next week!   


Mary Patry
IT Executive Advisor and Leadership Coach  
 480.393.0722 (AZ)
 [email protected]

Let’s Talk sponsored by an IT Executive Coaching and Advisory practice targeting CIO’s challenge of leading and delivering business solutions with a focus on effective people and process capabilities. Discover the possibilities by scheduling a complimentary strategy session with Mary Patry. 

Finding my Why

Finding my Why

I need to tell you a story. It is an integral part of my story about how coaching supported me on my journey towards becoming an IT Executive Coach. It is also a story about the power of partnership and trust in another.

For those who have followed my articles, you most likely already know that I have self-identified as an IT professional for the past 40 years. I started working in IT in 1977 at time when women in IT were quite rare. Because I worked in infrastructure, I did not have a female co-worker until 1984 and it wasn’t until 2006, that I had the pleasure of working with a female peer.

Even though I have achieved the status of CIO a couple of times, nothing has given me as much joy and pride as helping great people to achieve their career goals.    

As proud as I am of my overall career accomplishments, I am most proud of the most recent five years. I left my corporate life in 2013 with the intent of semi-retirement, focusing on part-time consulting while attempting to discover the meaning of life and perhaps picking up a hobby in the process. I found out far too quickly that I was not ready for retirement. I jumped at the chance to get back to work when a young CIO, who I had the honor of mentoring, asked me to help him in a new role less than a week into my retirement.  

At the same time the CIO Executive Council, a premier membership of Chief Information Officers, invited me to “coach” IT Executives as a member of their CIO Emeritus coaching team. My first reaction was to chuckle and respond “Coach?  I am not a coach.” They replied that I was as I had volunteered as a group mentor coach over the eight years priorand that they would pay me for my time. How could I resist that?  

With those two events, my stars aligned and ITeffectivity, LLC was born with the mission of helping CIOs and IT Leaders as an IT Executive Advisor.  

I did not intend to be focused on coaching. My husband played a role in my decision to formalize my coaching credentials. He often commented on my mood after sessions with my own coach. He called it my hobby job because, after each coaching session, I was so upbeat. Endorphins were flying to the point that he would remark about how happy it made him see me so satisfied.  

After one particularly productive coaching session, a light bulb came on – Why not become a coach? If I was going to be a coach, it had to be with the highest level of integrity and professionalism possible as proven by the ICF (International Coaching Federation) credentials. My passion grew out of the prevalent need for leadership and emotional skills amongst IT management. My intention was set deeper than any other professional commitment.

With this revelation, I went in search of a coaching program starting with the ICF list of training options and I talked with a couple of ICF credentialed friends. I landed on the CoachU program due to its ICF qualifications, flexibility, and references. I began the Core Essentials Program in April of 2016 andgraduated on June 12, 2017. I immediately started the Advanced Corporate Coaching Program that same June, completing the course work in May 2019, and have been on track to achieve the Professional Corporate Coach credential by the end of 2019.  

As a result of three years of hard work and commitment, I was awarded the Corporate Coach U Certified Graduate Designation earlier this month (August 2019). Like many professionals, I find it awkward and embarrassing to pat myself on the back, but dammit – it was hard work.

It required:  

  • Completing 39 coaching courses for a total of 365 classroom hours
  • Passing all the course exams with a score of 80% or higher
  • Being mentor coached by an International Coach Federation (ICF) Credentialed Coach for at least 10 hours (Trust me it took many more than 10 hours of mentor coaching
  • Receiving at least four written feedbacks on recorded coaching sessions supervised by an ICF credentialed coach
  • Coaching at least 25 distinct clients for a total of at least 500 coaching hours (In actuality, I coached over 80 clients)
  • Being recommended by an ICF credentialed coach who has observed my coaching and could verify that I coach at a PCC level or higher (the role of my mentor coach)
  • Passing the online multiple-choice final exam
  • Providing a written coaching experience case study
  • Successfully defending my application before the Certification Review Committee, which also included an actual oral coaching session target.

The graduation is enough to be proud of. However, what makes me most proud is that I was able to accomplish this while I was covering a full-time consulting client load, balancing family life,and balancing health issues. Many times, my family and friends asked if it was worth it. To be honest, I asked myself the same question more than once.  

Many have asked how I was able to stay on course. Simply, because of the trust and support of my coach, Lerae Gidyk. Through the faith we built, I knew she had my back when I was challenged with continuing. Our work together enabled me todiscover my way, my vision, and allowed me to formulate my strategy and roadmap. Ironically, I help my clients with developing strategies and roadmaps.

I have the tools! But like all good practitioners, I discovered how it can be hard to see the forest for the trees. As my coach Lerae helped me tackle my doubts and blocks, she partnered with me to clarify my WHY. You’ve heard me say – Every good strategy requires the clarity of knowing your WHY, your purpose, your reason for being.  

When you know your WHY the what and how are so much easier.


  • My passion for the coaching profession’s purpose and partnering with clients to find and unlock their potential, enabling them to realize a life previously unimagined  
  • The opportunity to enhance the leadership capabilities of executive IT leaders by utilizing my coaching experience and training combined with my professional IT leadership and consulting background   
  • My commitment to a life of continuous learning, includingthe required continuing education requirements and especially from all that I learn from my coaching clients  

And YES! – I will most certainly continue to work with Lerae as I continue my journey.  

I know through my experience as a coach, and as a coachee, that coaching can have dramatic effects on the performance of individuals and organizational success. I love working with CIOs and IT leaders, knowing that I provide them with a safe harbor to share ideas and contemplate options. Many CIOs and upcoming talented IT executives find the quality of my coaching to be outstanding and genuinely different from anything they have experienced before.

Here is what a few of my coaching clients have to say:

Mary possesses great listening capabilities and is a trusted advisor, committed to providing unbiased guidance in a safe/confidential environment. She focuses on eliciting information rather than telling you what to do. She helped me make improvements in terms ofenhancing my visibility within the organization and improving my perceptions among leadership which, has led to an increase this year in the scope of my responsibilities.”
Sr. IT Director, Leading Building Management Firm

As a new Global Executive Director, Mary’s assistance was instrumental in preparing me for the expectations and challenges ahead. She provided practical examples, roadmaps, templates, and her experience to assist me in this new role. We worked extensively on my first 90 days and how I would be demonstrating executive leadership and developing my vision. All of which were successfully completed.”
Global IT Executive Director, Life Sciences

“Mary’s extensive knowledge, quest to educate and challenge herself coupled with her excellent coaching/mentoring skills, thoughtful & probing manner,and caring attitude are invaluable assets that truly make a difference.”
CIO, Global Biopharmaceutical Manufacturing Firm

Moving Forward

Coaching is for everyone in times of change and challenge. Whether you are facing an outstanding new opportunity, or you want to take command in new and powerful ways, coaching will help. It is always individually focused on guiding and helping you with the challenges associated with your role and career, both now and in the future.

My high impact IT executive coaching is tailored to individuals and designed to meet your unique needs. As a result, career advancement is very often achieved while also developing your skills to become a highly influential business leader. Mycoaching is designed to help you take control of your development and move your performance to the next level.

You can choose from a range of approaches, including:

  • Career boost, diagnostics & coaching for when you want to immediately take your career to the next level, or create new and exciting options for your future
  • IT Executive development coachingfor when you want to deal with issues that are impacting your performance or those in your team
  • Group and Team Coaching:  a new offering that enables the coaching experience for middle managers or teams at an affordable price point

Do any of these approaches resonate with you? For a confidential and complimentary discussion on how coaching can help you achieve your goals – Let’s Talk!

 We will continue our discussion next week by exploring communicating as a leader.


Until next week!


Mary Patry
IT Executive Advisor and Leadership Coach  
 480.393.0722 (AZ)
 [email protected]

Let’s Talk sponsored by an IT Executive Coaching and Advisory practice targeting CIO’s challenge of leading and delivering business solutions with a focus on effective people and process capabilities. Discover the possibilities by scheduling a complimentary strategy session with Mary Patry. 

The Day the World Took Notice

The Day the World Took Notice

September 11, 2001, the day the world stopped to watch in horror as the World Trade Center’s two iconic towers came tumbling down. The day the largest and most influential country’s military headquarters, the Pentagon, was attacked by a single suicide attack plane. The day the voices of the cockpit recording of the highjacked United Airlines Flight 93, before it crashed in a field in Pennsylvania, would be etched in our memories forever. The day the USA was attacked by foreign terrorists resulting in the loss of 2,996 people with over 6,000 people injured not counting the brave first responders still fighting to recover from toxic exposure.   

The September 11th terrorist attacks put the world on notice. The terrorists underestimated our resilience and capability to love one another. The world banded together as we worked through the grief and shock of such a horrendous act. No one old enough to understand the significance of the events has forgotten where they were and what they were doing that day. I still feel the fear and emotions of not reaching my NYC based daughter for over 24 hours after the event. It was a day we all promised to never forget.    

Yet, we seem to be forgetting.  

Today, there is a growing divide fueled by extremists and purposeful rhetoric intended to break us down as a society. The way we behave to each other as fellow citizens makes it hard to remember the promises we made to each other after 9/11.   

The division and hate we are seeing expressed every day in the news and social media is tearing us apart. Acts of domestic terrorism and mass murder threaten with the potential of becoming numb to them. The use of toxic, derogatory, and even vulgar language between professionals on business sites like LinkedIn in incredulous. The acceptance of bias threatens to push us back 100 years as a society.    

Social media is not the cause, nor is it the mainstream media. We own it.  

Social media is a tool with the potential to positively impact human behavior. Social media gives us access to diversity of opinion and thought from different cultures and regions of the world. This access has the power to broaden our minds and challenge our thinking. Most importantly, it gives us knowledge and access to people across the globe, enabling respect for people outside of our small circle of life.  

The divide we are now experiencing is something we have done to ourselves by our own closed mindedness. We’ve dug our heals in and built a resistance to question our commitment to our position. Closed minds, close minds all around us.   

The Challenge 

If we own the problem, can we not also own the solution? A famous George Bernard Shaw quote states, “Those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.The challenge is that closed-minded people don’t know they are closed minded. When was the last time you heard anyone brag that they were closed minded?  

Another challenge is people’s natural fear of being wrong. Fear locks your mind like a death trap. People, especially leaders, are stubborn and confident in their convictions. That is what makes them leaders, their convictions. The fear of failure further hardens their convictions. They avoid looking weak, foolish, or “wishy washy.” Unfortunately, this can lead them into a state of bullying through disagreements in their position.  

Opening Our Minds 

We have choices. If we open our minds, others will open their minds to us. It will take courage to express and accept your closed mind and understand that there are some things that are very hard, if not impossible to change. For example, my first reaction to this was to say, “my core values are nonnegotiable. Even when writing it I could tell that my mind was closed to changing my core values. Should I not be open to testing the bias and beliefs they are built on?  

When was the last time you learned anything while talking? Never. Our biggest prohibitory to an open mind is our mouth. 

Who do you hang out with? Are they all like-minded? When was the last time you intentionally sought to understand someone with a difference of opinion or someone who could expand your thinking? 

When was the last time you said out loud, “I don’t want to hear it.” I know when my last time was. It was a few days ago. Fortunately, a dear friend gently called me on it. (Thank you, Friend. You know who you are.)    

What is the risk of listening? What are the risks of trying someone else’s ideas? As a person who likes to be in control (yes that would be me), I find that when I give up control, it is like taking a vacation.  Interestingly, when I sit back, I can see how others feel respected, valued, and energized.    

If you are still reading, thank you for allowing me to share my heart.  

Until next time, I will leave you to ponder your thoughts as we take the time to remember the day the towers fell, the memories of lives lost, and our promise to never forget. My hope is for you to stand with me as leaders in a quest to close to the divide.   


Mary Patry
IT Executive Advisor and Leadership Coach  
 480.393.0722 (AZ)
 [email protected]

Let’s Talk sponsored by an IT Executive Coaching and Advisory practice targeting CIO’s challenge of leading and delivering business solutions with a focus on effective people and process capabilities. Discover the possibilities by scheduling a complimentary strategy session with Mary Patry. 

Why SAM?

Why SAM?

Of all the ITIL processes, IT Asset Management (ITAM) might be the most challenging and most misunderstood. It certainly is the one everyone would like to ignore. It is hard. Ive heard asset management compared to starting a program to improve your health. Though everyone is aware of the benefits, it is complicated, not very convenient, and not a lot of fun. Most of all, it seems daunting. In the process, many fail to recognize the potential asset management offers once it is implemented effectively.   

As challenging as IT asset management of hardware assets is, Software Asset Management (SAM) takes it to the next level. Organizations often equate software asset management with license tracking. Underutilized or poor-quality data leaves value on the table. SAM is not merely knowing how many licenses you require to be in compliance; it’s asking the deeper questions in order to optimize your license estate. 

The requirement for an IT Asset Management and SAM program was first brought to my attention when I was the CIO of SimplexGrinnell back in early 2003. We were preparing for our first SOX audit.  SimplexGrinnell was a wholly owned division of Tyco International. Due to Tyco’s role in the introduction of Sarbanes-Oxley, we took SOX compliance to greater depths than most organizations. I learned how hard ITAM and SAM were and how ever so necessary they were to our passing our first SOX audit.   

The true power of SAM was introduced to me while I was working with a large international organization looking to transform its global capabilities, moving from a decentralized operating model to a centralized IT organization in 2015. It was during this program that I was introduced to Rory Canavan of SAM Charter, a UK based firm committed to the advancement of the practice of SAM. Though we live 5,000 miles and eight time zones apart, Rory remains my trusted SAM resource today. I asked Rory to help us out here with the true business case in support of SAM.   

Take it away Rory…  

If you think Software Asset Management (SAM) merely exists to rebuff a software vendor audit, then you are missing out on the very best this IT discipline has to offer. In this short article, we tackle five areas beyond the generation of ELPs (Effective License Positions) as to why greater attention given to SAM should not be considered a chore, but rather a vital part of your IT health-checks. 

License Compliance – In and of itself, license compliance is a form of risk management – the risk being that if we are non-compliant, then we are exposing our organisation to additional license costs, as well as back-dated support and maintenance fees; and that’s before we even consider the legal penalties that could befall us via “delivery up” (whereby a software vendor withdraws our “rights to use” their software, and insists upon its removal).   

However, a latent consequence of not keeping our licensing house in order, is the potential wrecking-ball effect that an audit can have on our existing IT operations. Vendor audits can be time and finance-heavy, and often appear unannounced. Rarely does a company keep to one side a contingency fund to account for the side-step in extra hours to be worked, or indeed the impact an audit can have on existing IT and business projects.  

Remember:  When an IT company is knocking on your door to demonstrate purchases vs. installations, the bow-wave of an audit can be felt right through every fibre/ department of the companyLegal, Contracts, Procurement, the C-Suite. Good SAM helps mitigate the potential upset vendor audits can cause. 

Improved Financial Management Gartner produced well-used statistics that anything up to 30% of software bought by companies remains unused. Let’s just consider that figure again – 30%. I would then like you to take that figure and apply it any other aspect of your business:  heating, lighting, wages, travel expenses – the unholy riot that could ensue in many organizations if that 30% of non-use was applied to another aspect of the company would undoubtedly have people refreshing their résumés, and creating wonderful stories as to why they are looking to take on a new role at such short notice.    

Improved financial management in SAM not only occurs in negotiating the best possible price at the point of contract renewal, but in also ensuring that software is deployed at the right time, against the right IT architecture, and with the right level of support. If any of these aspects are not given proper due diligence, then we will find ourselves having to accommodate the consequences of a vendor audit, as discussed in the paragraph above. A quick word too, on “indirect licensing” – this occurs when the users of one system are granted access to the features and benefits of another system. This technological marvel might be something your IT teams are very proud of achieving, but again, consider the licensing consequences of granting users of System A access to System B – this is the type of action that could result in System A users having to purchase licenses for System B, which can be enough to put a substantial hole in anyone’s budget. For an example of how badly this can go, please review the court case SAP brought against Diageo in the UK. 

Improved Information Security – A seemingly long-forgotten model of IT is the OSI 7-layer reference model that seeks to explain how electricity becomes data, travels via hardware and software, and becomes the web page or word document/pdf that greets our screens. Software transcends many of those layers, and SAM can help highlight points of entry and exit for the data we deem to be worthy of additional protection. Client licenses that grant dedicated access to software could be bettered policed by many companies – especially when employees become ex-employees.  How many times have we heard anecdotal stories of salesmen that have taken complete copies of a CRM, only to announce that they are heading on to start work with a competitor? If we wish to enforce a “need to know” model of data access, then SAM is a great place to start to scrutinise whose licenses grant such access.  

Access to data becomes an even larger concern when we consider as-a-service software. The advantage of an on-site licensing model would be that in many instances, access to or from software could be controlled via a central suite of software called Active Directory (AD). However, the mobility and agility with which end users have embraced the cloud means that not every piece of software is controlled by AD, and many non-Microsoft titles can grant back-door access to our IT estates and our data. Vigilance around such rogue installations of software falls within the discipline of SAM to try and help resolve. Without it, as-a-service software becomes a drain on the Improved Financial Management we mentioned above. 

Improved IT Strategy – phrases such as resource management and capacity management are increasingly coming into vogue with IT because of our dependence on as-a-service provision of IT by third parties. These third parties require that we pay a monthly bill based upon usage. If we don’t measure that usage, then we are only capable of guessing whether those monthly direct debits are offering true value for the money.   

If we have a handle on what we are spending through Improved Financial Management (See above), then we are then able to offer a cost-benefit analysis of how well IT is contributing to the overall goals and ambitions of the company. Pure IT-only projects are increasingly rare these days; they are normally weaved into a larger part of how a company delivers its products and services; so ensuring that the finite IT resources we have at our disposal are being effectively used towards an intended goal is a measurement function that sits neatly within the SAM space. If you believe that the sole purpose of SAM is to produce ELPs (Effective License Positions), then you are missing the true power of SAM. 

Improved Configuration Management I want you to think of your IT estate as a piece of cloth:  The strands running North to South are how the business views IT; these are the IT services that ITIL is so keen to create and promote to the rest of the business for maximum utilization.  Next, we have the strands that run East to West, and these could be considered the software installations that interact with the IT services. Software Vendors and SAM Managers are very keen to be able to produce reports at the end of the East to West strands (i.e. ELP reports); whereas the business is more concerned with Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) and/or Return on Investment (ROI) of the IT services that are comprised of (in large part) the software that we have installed.   

A handy means of understanding what software is used in the creation and maintenance of IT services is a Configuration Management Database. However, creating and let alone maintaining such a database is a major challenge. But it is something that we can call upon best practice SAM to help address. Use of ISO 19770-2 Software ID tags can help create and maintain the integrity of our CMDB. The scope of this article precludes me from going into detail here. However, a copy of a whitepaper offering a deeper dive of how this can be achieved is available hereUsing SAM to Create and Maintain a CMDB.  

I hope the above has sparked some thoughts as to how you might be able to apply SAM in your own company. I would welcome any feedback on the above. Or, if you have any further ideas on how to best utilize SAM, then it would be great to hear those too. 

Thank you, Rory.  

In Closing 

Thank you Rory for laying out the role Software Asset Management plays in allowing organizations to cut spending, eliminate wasteful hardware and software, and improve organizational security. More asset data will lead to better business decisions made across the organization.  

Yes, software audits are a growing concern for businesses, but proactive reporting and decision-making supported by quality data will mitigate audit risks. People, processes, and technology need to be in place before that can happen. Achieving an optimized SAM program is well worth the effort.   

Rory is the SAM expert. I encourage you to reach out to him directly to learn the value of SAM to your organization. To discuss your CMDB and SAM alignment or for more information as to how Rory may help your SAM cause, reach out to SAM Charter today:  

Email:  [email protected]   


Thank you for spending time with us. Have a great week!  


Mary Patry
IT Executive Advisor and Leadership Coach  
 480.393.0722 (AZ)
 [email protected]

Let’s Talk sponsored by an IT Executive Coaching and Advisory practice targeting CIO’s challenge of leading and delivering business solutions with a focus on effective people and process capabilities. Discover the possibilities by scheduling a complimentary strategy session with Mary Patry.