As we wind down the year, I'd like to reflect on a few of my favorite blog posts from this year. To make this easier to read, I'll share the first five posts this week. Looking through the archive, these items stood out for me, in no particular order:
At the end of the day, I try to take a few moments to look at what I've achieved. Maybe you're like me, and sometimes you look back on your day and realize you spent most of your time reacting to things rather than planning for them. On days like this, I think ahead to the next day, and prepare myself to hit the ground running. In this preparation, I say this to myself: "Future-me is an idiot." That's an important realization. And I need to give future-me a head start. So I can get started right away the next morning, I often leave out materials for myself.
Related post: What successful people do in the first hour of the day
While the three lenses of Strategic, Political, Cultural remain a strong foundation for leadership, I find they sometimes offer a somewhat limited view towards leading through change. Over the years, I have modified the three lens approach into a new model, which succinctly prepares me as I consider any new change. This new model is a series of three simple questions designed to uncover the need for the change, its support, and its possible reception:
- Is it the right thing to do?
- Are the right people behind the idea?
- Are people ready to accept the change?
A recent post in Ragan's HR Communication highlighted how to keep your teams happy at work. From the article, "People who are 'happy' at work tend to be more productive, take less sick leave, and stay with their employers longer than unhappy employees." In other words, the key to having engaged team members is keeping them happy. But it's not about ping pong tables in the break room and unlimited sodas in the kitchen—it's engagement and trust. The article lists four key elements to happiness on the job:
- Be collaborative.
- Be resilient.
- Be cultural.
- Be confident.
IT leaders traditionally manage technology by "controlling" it. A large part of this is generational; many of today's IT leaders are likely from the "Star Wars" generation, and we grew up in exciting times in a technology sense but a frightening and uncertain time in a social sense. So IT leaders who are about my age tend to really dig technology, but at the same time wish to have some level of control over it. But as Gregory Jackson at EDUCAUSE Review points out, "The era of control is ending for campus IT organizations. This means that IT leaders need to rethink some known management approaches and methods." A few changes leaders need to accept:
- Technology change.
- Organizational change.
- Contextual change.
In speaking about leadership, I sometimes speak about "lead-manage-do". It's difficult—if not impossible—to provide a strategic, forward-thinking direction for your organization if you are too focused on the day-to-day. Strategic thinking doesn't come naturally. You need to put in some additional effort to make it work. Paul Schoemaker wrote in Inc Magazine about 6 habits of strategic thinkers that might help you to take that next step:
- Anticipate what's ahead.
- Think critically.
- Analyze the data.
- Make a decision.
- Understand the politics.
- Learn from mistakes and successes.
Next week, I'll share the rest of the list.