Kathy Madison, Comtech Services

During the May CIDM management round table discussion, members raised questions and shared advice on management practices and leadership qualities. Here are some of the highlights of the conversation that you might consider adopting in your own organization.

In defining what makes a good leader, all seemed to agree that integrity, authenticity, empathy and trust were key factors to successful management. One member said early in her management career she was given the following advice regarding leadership: “There are three types of leaders… leaders who make things happen, leaders who watch things happen and leaders that don’t know what has happened… You need to be the first type of leader”.  Another member chimed in and said, “don’t forget about the leader who gets other people to make things happen”.  Also thrown into the ring were: invest in your employee’s careers; admit when you make mistakes; challenge processes and only drive the changes you believe in; delegate to your team members otherwise you may be robbing them the chance to grow, plus, it frees up your time to work on more strategic things; inspire a shared vision and be excited about what you are doing.

The idea of empowering your team members came up several times during the session as well as keeping the team anchored to real business metrics so they know what is expected of them. If managing in an agile environment, several members talked about the value of the daily stand-up meetings to keep everyone informed.  It was suggested that rotating the stand-up leader helps make everyone feel invested. We also talked about managing around the personality traits of the team members; knowing everyone’s strengths and weaknesses and what motivates them will help you get the best collaboration out of your team. Meyers-Briggs, DISC, Kolbe, StrengthsFinder, and Situational Leadership were some of the tools identified for helping in this area.

The question of how best to streamline meetings was raised with only one tip provided: make meeting very short and stop on-time forcing people to be prepared and stay on topic. In addition to this tip, Death be Meeting, by Patrick Lencioni, was noted as being a good read on the subject.

Members had many approaches to help improve moral and company culture.  Here’s a few:

  • Setup a quarterly peer MVP award. Show recognition in a public meeting when someone does something outstanding.
  • Make the team feel visible and get them seen across all business areas. For example, encourage them to get to know the UX designers and product managers; this may lead to being asked for help with wordsmithing the interface.
  • Host regular online gaming lunches to bring remote sites together. Codenames and Board Game Arena were cited as good options.
  • Create a “got caught doing something good” program sponsored by senior management. In the example given, special sticky notes were printed with the phrase “Got caught doing good”. The notes were available for anyone in the company to highlight someone else’s “good”. The sticky notes were taken to a senior executive who periodically hand-delivered them to the people who had been acknowledged. The do-gooder was then able to go to a cabinet and select a small gift such as movie tickets, gift card or bottle of wine as a reward.

Of course, we didn’t forget about managing yourself as well as your team.  Members suggested you: schedule regular meetings with yourself to reflect on recent critical events; surround yourself with the right people, hire people who are better than you; fire and rehire yourself and think about what you would do if you were to start anew; hire a professional coach or join a mastermind group with people in similar situations to yours or folks that are ahead of you.

Overall, the comments made during the session were in sync with Dwight Mihalicz, president of a management consulting firm who said “an effective manager is someone who is able to manage their own work and their team in the best way possible, thereby helping to attain the overall strategy of the organization.”