REDBAND: Technology Leadership Series: Self Awareness by Mike Brandes

TECHNOLOGYLEADERSHIPSERIES

Leaders at any level, whether CIO, CTO or even lower management, need to have a firm grasp of their team’s pulse, as a result it is important for all leaders to have tremendous self-awareness. It is important for a leader to have a good accounting of their own strengths and weaknesses drawing on strengths when necessary and avoiding pitfalls of their weaknesses when confronted by them.

Leaders must be able to take a complete inventory of the perception of themselves within their team(s).  All too often leaders don’t take this important step, preventing them from being as successful as leaders who accurately utilize introspection and awareness. Without being insecure, leaders must be able to use this inventory to ensure they are providing their teams with meaningful leadership, direction, vision and emotional intelligence; guiding them towards success and solidly supporting and empowering employees.

Another key component of leadership having exceptional self-awareness is to always be cognizant of ensuring leaders never blame others for team or department failures. I’ve heard it said one of the simplest keys to being a great leader, and having highly performing teams, is to avoid personalizing failures and actively share successes with your team. Self Awareness is also integral to another key concept previously discussed: building successful teams.  A leader needs to be aware of their deficits to ensure they build teams with complementary strengths, in order to be as complete and diverse as possible. Leaders who are not-self aware, or actively taking inventory of their strengths and weaknesses are susceptible to failure in the blind spots. It is crucial to constantly be aware of how your attitude, actions and leadership affects others.

For the next several months, a new post will be released with another key characteristic of what it takes to be successful in technology leadership. These posts are in no particular order; I’d love for you to provide feedback and let me know if you think I’m missing something, or if you’d like to see a particular trait addressed please feel free to contact me, or leave a comment. I’m hoping this will be a useful dialogue about what is necessary to become a successful technology leader.

Mike Brandes

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Mike is an experienced audio video and information technology specialist, with 5 years experience in AV/IT; and previous experience in Pro Audio including full-time touring experience. Mike is active in InfoComm, the Audiovisual Industry Association, and serves on the Technology Managers Council and the Certification Committee. Check out Mike’s website http://mikebrandesav.com/ and Follow him on Twitter.

REDBAND: Technology Leadership Series: Vision by Mike Brandes

TECHNOLOGYLEADERSHIPSERIES

Successful leadership always starts with a vision. Compelling visions have led to several of the greatest moments in human history. President John F. Kennedy’s vision to place a man on the moon forever changed the way we look at a nighttime sky. Likewise, every CIO, CTO and technology manager must have a far-reaching vision of where their department must be in twelve, eighteen and thirty-six months into the future. Without a vision, or any concrete direction to move in, IT departments become stagnant and obsolete virtually immediately. A leader must be able to see where the organization is heading to position their teams in the best possible way, in order for the company to be successful. For a vision to be successful it needs to be:

Clearly set with the organizational direction and purpose. Visions must be in line with company core values an directives. Contradictory directives can derail any successful, high-performing team.

Help employees believe they are part of something bigger than themselves and their daily work. Everyone wants to be part of something larger than themselves. Vision empowers employees to make their daily work more than just a task list, but a series of steps in a much larger, more important, journey.

Flexible. This is the most important part of any vision, and probably any leader. Flexibility to change, adjust and adapt a vision is vital. As often as technology and technologies change, every vision must be adapted or they will quickly become anachronistic

Vision is imperative to the success of an organization. Leaders can be good, even great, without possessing some of the qualities previously discussed. However, a leader must have a vision and a direction as to where to lead their teams. Without a direction and a vision, any movement is controlled chaos at best and a complete disaster at worst. Take a step back, solicit feedback and constantly re-evaluate the direction and effectiveness of your vision. Don’t become too committed to the vision to be flexible and adapt when necessary.

For the next several months, a new post will be released with another key characteristic of what it takes to be successful in technology leadership. These posts are in no particular order; I’d love for you to provide feedback and let me know if you think I’m missing something, or if you’d like to see a particular trait addressed please feel free to contact me, or leave a comment. I’m hoping this will be a useful dialogue about what is necessary to become a successful technology leader.

Mike Brandes

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Mike is an experienced audio video and information technology specialist, with 5 years experience in AV/IT, and previous experience in Pro Audio including full-time touring experience. Mike is active in InfoComm, the Audiovisual Industry Association, and serves on the Technology Managers Council. Check out Mike’swebsite http://mikebrandesav.com/ and Follow him on Twitter.

REDBAND: Technology Leadership Series: Building Successful Teams by Mike Brandes

TECHNOLOGYLEADERSHIPSERIES

One of the best moves a CIO, CTO or technology manager of any level can make is to build a strong, competent and complete team.  While this idea seems to be common sense and commonplace it’s more integral to the success of the organization than it seems. There are endless books, blogs and seminars on the topic of team-building strategies, compiling successful, high-performing teams isn’t difficult.

 Hire people who are smarter than you. As a leader, personal insecurity shouldn’t be part of any decision-making process, ever. Not being concerned with individual perceptions is important. Any true leader knows it is the team, not the leader who is the catalyst for success. Surrounding yourself with people who are smarter than you, who make decisions differently than you and whom process information differently than you will allow more creativity into the decision-making and brainstorming process.

Insist on all team members being an excellent cultural fit. Every company, intentionally or not, has a company culture. Making hiring decision based on company culture is imperative. With rare exceptions, every employee contributes to team morale and culture. Each employee being highly skilled and competent isn’t enough. Each team member must contribute positively to the success of the enterprise as well as the company culture.

Clearly define expectations and roles. Few things contribute to high turnover, low morale and under performing teams than unclear expectations. It’s nearly impossible for employees to stay motivated while working towards a moving target of poorly communicated expectations. It’s simple to increase team productivity; efficiency and morale by ensuring team members are clearly understanding all expectations. Making smart hires and developing employees are important but nothing will keep employees engaged longer and deeper than clearly defined goals and expectations.

No one person is capable of doing everything, no matter how much we try. Leaders aren’t leaders unless they have followers, it’s important to ensure teams of followers are assembled in the best way possible. Hiring competent, intelligent and diversely talented people who are committed to the values, goals and culture of the organization; and then clearly and plainly setting reasonable expectations are the ingredients to strong, engaged, effective and successful teams.

For the next several months, a new post will be released with another key characteristic of what it takes to be successful in technology leadership. These posts are in no particular order; I’d love for you to provide feedback and let me know if you think I’m missing something, or if you’d like to see a particular trait addressed please feel free to contact me, or leave a comment. I’m hoping this will be a useful dialogue about what is necessary to become a successful technology leader.

Mike Brandes

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Mike is an experienced audio video and information technology specialist, with 5 years experience in AV/IT, and previous experience in Pro Audio including full-time touring experience. Mike is active in InfoComm, the Audiovisual Industry Association, and serves on the Technology Managers Council. Check out Mike’swebsite http://mikebrandesav.com/ and Follow him on Twitter.

REDBAND: Technology Leadership Series: Emotional Intelligence by Mike Brandes

TECHNOLOGYLEADERSHIPSERIES

The individualized vision of the “Perfect Leader” is highly subjective and its definition can be surprisingly diverse from person to person. While there are many attributes and actions that are commonly associated with high performing leadership, one of the most understated in my opinion is emotional intelligence.

You may have run across this person before. They seem to be calm regardless of the circumstances, they never lose their temper, and they always make a deliberate effort to listen to the views and opinions of their team. These qualities reflect an individual who has been able to leverage emotional intelligence to their benefit. More importantly, this method of leadership has perhaps had a more beneficial impact on his or her direct reports than anything else.

So what exactly is emotional intelligence? It is loosely defined as the ability to manage and understand not only your own emotions but the emotional state of those in your presence. Someone with a highly acute sense of emotional intelligence will be able to quickly analyze their emotional state to understand what they are feeling, what it means for the given situation, and how their emotional state may affect others. When a leader loses their temper, they are not only creating an unnecessarily tense environment, but they are communicating that they have lost control of the situation. Gifted leaders never allow this to occur. They recognize the warning signs and channel this energy into more deliberate, actionable leadership.

It’s my opinion that emotional intelligence is an absolute for true leadership success. Leaders need to set the example for their teams and have the ability to operate and execute in the most stressful situations. The absence of self-control in situations such as these can lead to reactionary actions and a “shoot from the hip” type approach. Neither of these are recommended during periods of high stress and pressure. While some leaders have developed a strategy to manage and maintain their emotional state, it may take time for those who are new to leadership to hone their self-awareness. Before you can move to understand the state of your teams on an individual basis, you must have an acute sense of self.

In conclusion, working with diverse teams and personalities will invariably lead to challenging interpersonal situations. Strong leaders will be able to quickly recognize these instances and be able to apply their emotional intelligence to mitigate the situation. To get started, leaders should focus on honing their skills as it relates to empathy, self-awareness, self-regulation and of course, social skills as they relate to communication and conflict resolution.

For the next several months, a new post will be released with another key characteristic of what it takes to be successful in technology leadership. These posts are in no particular order; I’d love for you to provide feedback and let me know if you think I’m missing something, or if you’d like to see a particular trait addressed please feel free to contact me, or leave a comment. I’m hoping this will be a useful dialogue about what is necessary to become a successful technology leader.

Mike Brandes

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Mike is an experienced audio video and information technology specialist, with 5 years experience in AV/IT, and previous experience in Pro Audio including full time touring experience. Mike is active in InfoComm, the Audiovisual Industry Association, and serves on the Technology Managers Council. Check out Mike’swebsite http://mikebrandesav.com/ and Follow him on Twitter.

REDBAND: Technology Leadership Series – Managing Expectations By Mike Brandes

TECHNOLOGYLEADERSHIPSERIES

As we’ve already discussed, one of the most important characteristics and skills a CIO, CTO or Technology Manager can have excellent communication skills. One of the ways great communication skills are manifested is in managing expectations, internally and externally.

A good CIO will be able to do internal marketing of their department’s ability to help a company reach their goals and objectives. A great CIO, however, sells the department without overselling it. There’s a subtle difference, but a great CIO must understand the limits of his or her team and set realistic timelines for project completion. The difference between a good CIO and a great CIO is the ability to understand limits and not to over commit resources.

A great technology leader understands the best way to avoid overselling their department is to build a team capable of thinking fast on their feet, and able to develop solutions and strategies to help the organization accomplish its objectives. A great CIO must have the ability to inspire his or her team to provide a viable solution to every problem. On my team we don’t say no to any request, we offer at least one solution for every request allowing the customer to make an educated decision as to whether or not they would like to pursue it further. By constantly challenging team members with high expectations they know and understand what is expected of them, allowing them to focus on meeting deadlines and project requirements.

Mike Brandes

For the next several months, a new post will be released with another key characteristic of what it takes to be successful in technology leadership. These posts are in no particular order; I’d love for you to provide feedback and let me know if you think I’m missing something, or if you’d like to see a particular trait addressed please feel free to contact me, or leave a comment. I’m hoping this will be a useful dialogue about what is necessary to become a successful technology leader.

squareglasses6

Mike is an experienced audio video and information technology specialist, with 5 years experience in AV/IT, and previous experience in Pro Audio including full time touring experience. Mike is active in InfoComm, the Audiovisual Industry Association, and serves on the Technology Managers Council. Check out Mike’swebsite http://mikebrandesav.com/ and Follow him on Twitter.

REDBAND: Technology Leadership Series – Management Skills by Mike Brandes

TECHNOLOGYLEADERSHIPSERIES

Technology Leadership Series: Management Skills

Technology Leaders, CIO’s and CTO’s must be more than good manager  to be successful. However, it’s difficult to have success in an organizational leadership role without having strong management skills.  Management skills extend beyond some of the typical roles of a manager one might think: scheduling employees, hiring applicants, ensuring adequate coverage and meeting goals. Strong management skills include a dedication to not only improving their individual performance, but also the performance of their team. Successful leaders develop the talent they manage, preparing them for future advanced roles within the company. Successful leaders motivate their team to accomplish more than expected, and exemplify excellence as the standard.

In college I worked in retail and food service, arguably two of the worst managed industries. I’ve had terrible managers that used their authority to manipulate and coerce employees; but, I’ve also had several incredible managers who motivated me to be a better employee and person. I can recall one day, while working in a restaurant, I was vacuuming carpet and I saw the store’s General Manager walk out from the restroom with a cleaning cart. Jokingly I asked what he was doing, and didn’t he have someone to do that for him, since after all he was the manager. He smiled and explained the cleanliness of a bathroom can have an impact on a guest returning to the restaurant. Even cleaning a bathroom can increase the restaurant’s success; his job as a manager was to increase the restaurant’s success even if it meant scrubbing toilets.

A successful CIO must be proficient in directing and supervising people, projects, resources, budgets, vendors and other business partners is essential. In addition, great management skills entail team building, motivation, coaching and mentoring. Great managers ensure priorities are set appropriately and projects are completed on time and budget. . People with great management skills take advantage of delegation to ensure all work gets done and to engage team members in the success of the organization.  Organizations require excellent managers to be successful; the level of management skills in an organization’s leadership can be a good barometer of the organization’s health.

Mike Brandes

For the next several months, a new post will be released with another key characteristic of what it takes to be successful in technology leadership. These posts are in no particular order; I’d love for you to provide feedback and let me know if you think I’m missing something, or if you’d like to see a particular trait addressed please feel free to contact me, or leave a comment. I’m hoping this will be a useful dialogue about what is necessary to become a successful technology leader.

squareglasses6

Mike is an experienced audio video and information technology specialist, with 5 years experience in AV/IT, and previous experience in Pro Audio including full time touring experience. Mike is active in InfoComm, the Audiovisual Industry Association, and serves on the Technology Managers Council. Check out Mike’swebsite http://mikebrandesav.com/ and Follow him on Twitter.

REDBAND: Technology Leadership Series – Communication By Mike Brandes

TECHNOLOGYLEADERSHIPSERIES

I’m beginning a multiple part series on what makes a successful CIO. I’m hoping to explore, in dpeth, the individual personality factors and job responsibilities required to succeed in technology leadership. Whether you find yourself in the role of CIO or CTO, or not, these traits can also be applied to successful leadership within your organization and especially on your team.

At no point in history have organizations so greatly relied on technology to connect them, make themselves more efficient, manage information systems and warehouse data like they do now. With this in mind, the role of the CIO is arguably more important now, than it has ever been. These decisions of a CIO will impact just about every department within an organization. CIO’s have to demonstrate business acumen, leadership and teambuilding skills; traits that extend beyond a keen understanding of technical systems and operations.

For the next several months, a new post will be released with another key characteristic of what it takes to be successful in technology leadership. These posts are in no particular order; I’d love for you to provide feedback and let me know if you think I’m missing something, or if you’d like to see a particular trait addressed please feel free to contact me, or leave a comment. I’m hoping this will be a useful dialogue about what is necessary to become a successful technology leader.

Technology Leadership Series: Communication

The ability to intelligently and articulately talk about a strategy or a feeling in a clear and appropriate manner is an absolute must of any leader, especially a technology manager. Good communication is the foundation for success in any organization. Communication affects everything from task lists to the culture of the team. Communication prompts motivation by providing information to employees regarding the task they are to perform, or how to improve their performance. Communication is the source of information to all team members; allowing them to participate in decision-making process as it helps identify and assess alternative course of actions, if necessary. Communication plays an imperative role in altering individual’s attitudes. An individual who has been properly communicated with should have a better attitude than an individual who has not been properly communicated with.

Communication is more than just disseminating information. Great communication skills require great listening skills; to be a strong communicator one must also seek and accept feedback from peers, subordinates and customers. One of the most important things a technology leader can do is successfully alter the course of direction based on feedback. There is nothing worse than forcing an idea through against all common sense and feedback.
More than just written word, one-to-one verbal communication and public speaking. Much of what is discussed over the next few months, in this series, will have to do with healthy communication; which is why it was chosen first. Communication skills properly frame all other parts of an organization: communication the vision and direction the organization is to take, informing employees their role in advancing the company, managing expectations and time frames and so much more.

Mike Brandes

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Mike is an experienced audio video and information technology specialist, with 5 years experience in AV/IT, and previous experience in Pro Audio including full time touring experience. Mike is active in InfoComm, the Audiovisual Industry Association, and serves on the Technology Managers Council. Check out Mike’swebsite http://mikebrandesav.com/ and Follow him on Twitter.