a blog about technology management

Being intentional

It’s been a while since I’ve posted a work-related topic so it’s long overdue.  I’ve come to realize an important aspect of my leadership: know how you work as it will help you be more effective at work.  So what does that mean?

Instruments

Through various leadership activities I’ve taken instruments like the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator and the Strengths Finder.  I found both of these useful for different reasons.  The MBTI gave me insight into my preferences when interacting with the world and from where I get energy.  Similarly, the Strengths Finder illuminated what activities energize me and motivate me and how that shapes me as a leader.  One thing that is key with both of these instruments is that they are not absolutes — they do not define what one can or cannot do.  They show preferences and people do things all the time that are not their preference.  For example, perhaps a great speaker is an introvert.  She enjoys preparing an elegant speech and delivering it with energy but afterwards the smalltalk with attendees leaves her exhausted, drained.  People can work outside of their preferences or strengths but it drains their batteries — working within your preferences or strengths recharges your batteries.

Where is this going? Through these instruments I’ve gotten a clear idea of my strengths and have designed strategies at work that play to them and make me a more effective leader.  This is where being intentional comes in.  Once I learned how I work, I’ve used that knowledge to take approaches that aligned with my strengths and advance larger goals at work.

Case study: monthly meetings with key constituents

Communication is always critically important in an organization and often the thing that never quite works well enough.  In my organization, IT does a lot of projects with our Finance Office (i.e. CFO or Controller) and with our Registrar’s Office.  I consider them key constituents in terms of projects.  About a year ago I started monthly meetings with the Finance Office (the Controller and her team).  In those meetings I update them on issues from our last meeting, open projects, upcoming projects, priorities of my ERP team in the near term as well as discuss what’s on their agenda.  Additionally it serves as a clearinghouse for various issues they want to raise up to my attention. In the end we both leave informed and see progress.  I recently started a similar structure with our Registrar and her team.  The meetings also help build relationships and trust which are essential for accomplishing things within an organization.  Both groups find the time well-spent and effective.

How does this play to my strengths?  First off, in the MBTI I’m nearly a maxed introvert.  So I know these communications won’t happen casually through ad-hoc conversations.  That’s not my preference.  In terms of strengths, discipline is one of mine so I like structures, organization and lists (I’m also an achiever which is goal-focused) which are exactly what these monthly meetings comprise.  So by creating this structure I’m working both within my strengths as well as fulfilling an organizational need for communication.

Strength Tips

Recently, when participating in a leadership development program that incorporated the Strengths Finder I got these tips.

  • First, remember that doing activities that play to your strengths energizes you.  So at the end of the work day plan a strength-based activity to finish with.  It will energize you and send you home energized and not drained — your family will thank you.
  • Second, if you know you have to do something counter to your strengths try to sandwich it between two strength-based activities.  So you build up energy, get drained, then re-energize.  You’ll find yourself flowing through the day more effectively.

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