Good CIOs Lead By Following - Page 1

Nov 20, 2007

Hank Marquis

A 2006 study claims that 97% of IT workers say they experience job-related stress on a daily basis. Some 80% say they feel stressed before they even get to work, and around 25% admit to taking time off to deal with the stress.

These numbers place IT as the most stressful profession -– beating out doctors, firefighters, and many others.

The top reason listed is “lack of support, increasing pressure, interruptions and bullying behavior” from their direct managers. The report goes on to list other reasons including (in order):

  • workload
  • feeling undervalued
  • deadlines
  • type of work people have to do
  • having to take on other people’s work
  • lack of job satisfaction
  • lack of control over the working day
  • having to work long hours
  • frustration with the working environment
  • Stress is a leading cause of turnover, especially at the Service or Help Desk. It may be part of the reason there are fewer and fewer college graduates seeking a career in IT. Finally, stress-related illness is a leading cause of workplace injury and results in a staggering multibillion-dollar cost.

    According to the sufferers, it seems the reasons for this stress come directly from a lack of leadership from IT managers. If this is the case, and it appears to be, then it is within the power of IT management to improve productivity, reduce costs and enhance the working environment simply by becoming better managers and leaders.

    So, to improve IT service quality, improve customer satisfaction and reduce costs, perhaps it makes sense for CIOs to begin right at home -– with staff working conditions. It turns out that most IT job-related stress comes from a failure of those in IT management roles to understand that to lead, he or she has to follow. Effective leaders focus on relationships. They build a trusted team and then follow the team’s advice.

    Many CIOs and IT managers lack this understanding, and this causes stress, making IT the “worst job in the world.” Following are eight leadership traits that show CIOs and other IT leaders how to follow their constituents -– and in so doing increase project success rates, reduce costs, and improve IT service quality as he or she creates a better working place.

    1. Focus on the needs of others.

    Effective CIOs succeed by putting the needs of their team first. Real leaders try to provide service -– to their team, their customers, and anyone else they meet.

    By focusing on the needs of customers, and then trying to align their team in ways to meet those needs as well as the needs of the team, a leader gets the job done and develops followers. Customers want to work with a leader because a well-led team produces results. Your team wants to follow your lead because you take into account their needs and requirements.

    2. Leadership comes from your actions, not your title.

    Real leaders “walk the walk,” then they “talk the talk.” Some of the best IT leaders do not have CIO titles. Leadership in fact has nothing to do with title or pay-grade. Leaders lead because others want to follow them.

    Why would anyone want to follow a leader? Because leaders motivate their followers, give them purpose, support them, guide and mentor them, “take flak” to protect them, and make the workplace stimulating and rewarding.

    Next page: Where leaders get their best ideas...

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    Tags: management, support, IT, productivity, IT Leadership,

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