Sunday, 27 March 2011

Trust and Empowerment

Two of our "New World CIOs", Steve Williams from Newcastle and Martin Harrow from Cardiff gave a joint session on their perspectives of leadership.

Steve was up first, and used a nice phrase in describing his vision, he wants the IT department to be "first call consultees"' ie he wants people in the university if they're doing something with IT to want to call us. The IT department should be there to innovate, transform, enable and support.

It is vital that we are trusted, and we need to evident trustability round institution. Some tools for building trust are:
There's no substitute for showing your face
Get beyond all we want is a PC
Talk the same language, and see things from the VCs perspective. Stop using the language of the business and IT, we are part of the business
Get onto the right committees
Use different levels of formality, depending on the person and the situation
Prepare, but don't attempt to script
Demonstrate the benefits of IT

You also need to empower your team. Have just enough governance to provide a framework within which you can empower. Then align your team to the priorities. Manage the talent within the team, engage the mavericks, love the stars, energise the decent performers and appreciate the joy of a flower blooming. But, you have to manage performance, it's not harsh, it's fair to everyone.

Embrace ideas from around the institution, there's some great talent out there, and engage the external mavericks. Learn to love the audit committee, they can help you deliver.

But remember, it doesn't matter how well you communicate and good you are, no one will love you if the network falls over. Get the basics right.

Martin Harrow then gave his perspective, and outlined the pressures we face at the moment in this time of unprecedented turmoil, change, threat, and opportunity.
The pressures on the sector are many and varied, and are economic, political, social, environmental, legal, and technological. We need to focus on and tackle things we might have ducked in the past.

There's a new IT agenda. A typical smart phone today has the processing power of a supercomputer 15 years ago. We have the potential to transform IT affordability, performance, value, sustainability; to modernise and make the student experience more distinctive; to transform institutional performance.

IT should be integral to both the formulation and delivery of strategy. Now is our time - we should seize the moment!

Trust is critical. It's hard won, but easily lost, as this little video shows.

As Steve said in his comment about the network, if you can't get the basics right, and can't be trusted to get the basics right, you'll not be able to influence anything. If the VCs printer won't work don't try talking to him or her about strategy.

Tips for success:
Establish credibility and build trust
Figure out your own game plan for success
Be a university leader, not an IT leader
Work with your organisation, warts and all
Spend 40% of time on upward and outward relationships
Run IT in a business like way
Show, don't tell, what IT can do to help
Pick your moments, use stealth not frontal assault
Always deliver promised results.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

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