a blog about technology management

Frye wisdom 2 years later

This year at the Educause annual conference several of my Frye colleagues gave a panel presentation on their experiences post-Frye with attaining leadership positions (look in Resources tab for the PPT).  It was very informative and hopefully the video will be available online for all to see.  I jotted down many notes and had these take-aways for those looking to move into leadership positions:

  • When looking for a new position, know your strengths and your area of preference/comfort. Look for institutions and at position reporting lines that match those preferences.  For example, if you are academic computing focused, look for positions that report up through the Provost / Dean.  Also know what the institution is about and what its focus is.  You are looking for a good fit.
    • Also learn about other areas outside of your own.  Get on projects outside of your area.  You will need to know the broader view of IT to be an effective leader.  For example, if you work mainly on the systems side get on some academic computing project teams.
  • Know what stage of organizational development the institution you are considering is in.  Do they need someone to carry on what is happening?  Someone to fix something that is broken?  Someone to transform them?  Also know where your strengths lie.  An article in CIO magazine described 3 types of CIOs – operational, transformative, or strategic.  Know where your strengths or your goals lie.  Make sure the institutional need is a fit for you.  Organizations change over time and what they need change.
  • What to do in those first 90 days that are often seen as critical?
    • Meet everyone you can.  Set the tone in your team.  Find out what others outside of IT think, need.  Listen a lot.
    • Establish benchmarks quickly.  You will be asked to show proof of change.  Collect data showing how things are when you arrive.  Prepare comparisons to other organizations too.
    • Decide on your top 1 or 2 priorities and make a plan to execute them.  You can’t change everything at once.
    • Meet with your peers in the institution.  Establish those connections.
    • Create communication vehicles.  Create avenues for transparency.
    • Find mentors.  Utilize mentors.  Mentors can come from unlikely places.  If you ask someone to be a mentor  they just might say “yes.”
  • What about mistakes?  What would the panel do differently?
    • Give yourself permission to make mistakes.  You will make them.
    • Listen more during those first 90 days, talk less.
    • Remember you are new to your staff.  They do not know your ways.  You do not know the organizational ways before you came.  Learn the culture and be clear and explicit about your expectations.
  • What about interview advice?
    • Do your homework about the institution.  This is key.
    • Be confident about yourself, but be yourself.  Do not try to be what they want.  That will not work out on the long term.
  • What about self-improvement?
    • Seek out professional development wherever you can.
    • One panelist was always quite shy and soft spoken.  She took some assertiveness training courses years ago.  Needless to say she’s not shy now about speaking up.


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