The value-savvy leader

Polish your leadership image and reputation as a relevant, valuable partner.

Keys to enhancing your leadership skills

Maximize value to your clients, both internal and external.

Facilitate for clarity and value.

Focus on the value you deliver, not the activities.

Prioritize and re-prioritize goals as often as needed.

Create alignment around what is most important to accomplish.

Be an advocate for your clients' best interests.

"As a valued partner, you become part of your boss's or client's thinking, planning, and decision-making. If they are not focusing on things that contribute to their business success, you need to become a facilitator on their behalf. "

Steve Lishansky

What are successful IT leaders known for, and what sets them apart from those technically competent people who never advance as far as they could?

There is plenty of technical competence in the IT world today, yet leadership still seems to be an elusive characteristic, perhaps due to a lack of business training. While technical competence is important, let's focus on the qualities of a successful IT leader, such as vision and the ability to align goals and strategies, as well as the ability to leverage the skills of one's employees.

Your success in becoming a top performer and leader demands the ability to distinguish what matters most in producing success for yourself, your boss, clients, staff, and the whole organization. The ability to concentrate on what really matters will set you apart in a world where an endless stream of activities and confusion too often reign. Become the advocate for and facilitator of what is most valuable for your business partners' success, and your own success is assured.

Maximizing value: the foundation for success

Keys to enhancing your leadership skills:
  • Maximize value to your clients, both internal and external.
  • Facilitate for clarity and value.
  • Focus on the value you deliver, not the activities.
  • Prioritize and re-prioritize goals as often as needed.
  • Create alignment around what is most important to accomplish.
  • Be an advocate for your clients' best interests.

Having people perceive the value you provide is critical in being recognized for that work. Whether we are talking about how your boss perceives those contributions, how much clients appreciate your role in their success, or the level of teamwork and output your people produce, it all comes down to adding value--and having people recognize your worth.

That does not mean you need to constantly remind people what it is you do. The real key is to be a relevant partner in their success. This requires understanding what is most important to others and empowering them to accomplish those initiatives. Ironically, people often do not know what is really most important to them, and in such cases, your job is to first help the person clarify their aims, and then develop a winning strategy.

How often do we respond to the loudest requests, or weed through piles of projects that offer little ultimate value? Virtually every senior IT professional I work with is being asked to do more than is humanly possible. Compounding the continued IT labor shortage, the notion that technology can improve all business functions has stretched IT professionals to the brink. They may be asked to do 50 separate tasks at once, when only 20 will actually benefit the business.

The difference between an excellent leader and professionals who never seem to progress as far as they would like is the former's ability to identify, prioritize, and work on those activities that truly help a client. Even under an avalanche of requests, they make sure their bosses, clients, and teams are clear about what they are asking for and how it will help achieve their priorities. Remember, getting work done is only meaningful when it helps our business partners succeed. There is nothing more discouraging than spending weeks, months, and even years fulfilling specifications that turn out to be of far less value than anyone expected.

Essentials for enhancing value

When trying to maximize the value you provide in business relationships, it becomes essential to understand where your clients are going and what they ultimately want to achieve. Either operate as a recognized partner, or be relegated to the end of the line, catching requests that always seem to demand too much work on too short a deadline for too little value. As a valued partner, you become part of their thinking, planning, and decision-making. If your boss, clients, or teams are not focusing on things that contribute to their business success, you need to become a facilitator on their behalf.

As a strong leader, you must communicate those things that will produce the greatest benefits for the client or organization. Sometimes this is not obvious or easy, requiring skillful facilitation and influence to move everyone into alignment. Here is where your ability to articulate the importance of any activities or projects proves significant. Too much time is wasted in meetings arguing over how we are going to do things before we even identify the value and priority of what we are trying to produce. Orientation towards value is what we call 'highest common denominator thinking.'

Keeping your focus on what is most important breeds benefits in all your working relationships because it is easier, faster, and more powerful to build on strengths than to try to fix weaknesses. In fact, we find people are only successful in handling limitations and weaknesses when they come from a position of strength. Using this approach for yourself, your people, or anyone else you deal with enables you to maximize resources and strengths in the accomplishment of meaningful results.

All good leaders know how to step outside their technical expertise and communicate the value they provide their clients, both internal and external. They are able to identify how current work can build a compelling future, fostering alignment with their teams, company, and clients. Effective leaders move the people they touch, bringing out the best in both employees and their teams, while drawing upon and demonstrating their own personal excellence. //

Steve Lishansky, president of Success Dynamics, Concord, Mass., is a recognized expert in leadership and executive development. He is a consultant, executive coach, author and keynote speaker. He can be reached via email at slishansky@successdynamics.com.






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