“Executives are only going to notice when things go
bad.”

“Saying they [managers] care is one thing, but actions
really do speak louder than words.”

“A lot of the project managers that I have worked with
were too involved in the ‘nothing matters but the bottom line’ mentality.
Unfortunately, this leads to team self-destruction, missed deadlines, and a
poorly completed project.”

Could any of these statements have come from your employees?
Or maybe you’re an IT pro who is wrestling with the same sentiments about your
boss. The statements are actual quotes we pulled from TechRepublic’s discussion
forum on IT management. Judging from the frustration level we see among IT
pros, many find IT leadership lacking in the skills most likely to create and
maintain happy, productive teams.

 “You do not lead by hitting people
over the head. That’s assault, not leadership.” —Dwight D. Eisenhower

For many years, TechRepublic has offered IT managers advice
on how to motivate their teams and keep them productive, as well as how to
become a full partner in the business. This time, we’ve gathered six
TechRepublic articles that explore the complicated dynamics of leadership and
put them in one package, “The qualities of
leaders”
. If you’re a manager who’s trying to be the best leader he or
she can be, this collection is worth your time. If you’re an IT staffer, you
may consider sharing this with your boss.

We’ve put together a mini-quiz that draws questions from some
of the six articles featured in this PDF. Test your skills against the answers
offered by our experts.

In “Top 10 leadership qualities of successful CIOs,”
we contacted CIOs and technical executive recruiting representatives across
North America and asked them to identify the leadership qualities of a
successful CIO.

Question: How
does a CIO manage expectations effectively?

Answer: Concentrate
on internally marketing IT’s ability to help a company reach its goals and
objectives. But be careful not to oversell. “Many CIOs already understand the
importance of internal selling skills,” said Marc Lewis, president of the North
American division of Morgan Howard, a global technology executive search
company. “But if all you do is sell, sell, sell, and then you can’t back up
what you sell, you will drown in the bottom quartile. That’s not a good place
to be.”

One of the best ways to not oversell IT is to have a team
that can think on its feet and develop company solutions and strategies. “A
good CIO inspires his team to provide a viable solution to every problem,” said
Alvaro Holguin, CIO for Telvista’s Tijuana, Mexico division. “By constantly
challenging team members with high expectations, they know and understand what
is expected of them, which helps them focus on meeting deadlines and project
requirements.”

“Talking Shop: How to motivate your staff through the
art of giving orders” teaches that the best way to motivate employees is
to ask them, not tell them, what to do.

Question: What’s
the right way to ask for help?

Answer: Another
factor affecting the success of delegating projects is the way in which you ask
for help and positively reinforce your employees’ actions. Management coach
Lisa Taylor Huff said that if you become known as the kind of manager who
verbally acknowledges people for their efforts, “People will be more
receptive to your management style and will be less resistant to taking on the
tasks you assign.” She recommends using phrases such as these:

  • “Hi, Mary, I have a project I need your
    help with.”
  • “I would really appreciate it if you would
    please….”
  • “Hey, Jim, I have something important I
    need you to do for me.”
  • “George, I wanted to say thank you for
    making an extra effort to meet our deadline the other day.”

Scott Testa agrees. Testa, who oversees 40 support
technicians as director of support at Mindbridge, an intranet software company,
said that the way you ask can make a big difference in how your staff responds.
“I find that if I tell people, ‘I really need your help,’ they’re more
willing to work with me. By nature, most people like to help others, so when
you put them in a position to help you, they really respond well.”

In today’s business world—where corporate leadership and
integrity are under a big new microscope, given the recent illegal actions and
financial shenanigans—there’s no better time for executives to scrutinize
professional actions and behaviors. And that group includes IT managers and
other tech leaders. That’s what we discuss in “Tough management decisions
demand integrity.”

Question: How do
I motivate employees during tough times?

Answer: When
member Richard F. Tompkins was IT director at Hyundai Motor America prior to
the company’s incorporation, he supervised a staff of 14 and made a consistent
effort to support a team approach. He saw firsthand how a strong professional
ethic can pay off.

“I made it a point to give lots of credit to the staffs
of the other seven directors who had cooperated in the implementation of pilot
systems to get us off the ground,” he related. In fact, he hung a sign
above his desk that read, “It is amazing how much can get done if we don’t
worry about who gets the credit.”

The strategy worked: Nine months later, the company
implemented systems for dealers, banks, import, and distribution with paperless
systems exceeding every other automobile importer in the country.

You’ve read all about what to do to be good at your job.
Take a look at what practices can seal your fate in the opposite direction with
“The seven habits of wildly unsuccessful CIOs.” IT staffers in our
audience responded strongly to this one.

Question: Do you
create solutions in search of a problem?

Answer: Any
problem that arises is handled, always, in-house. Always. “They think that
what they do is so absolutely special that nothing off the shelf could fill
their needs,” said Scott Testa, Chief Operations Officer for Mindbridge, a
leading provider of Enterprise Intranet Software solutions.

“They expend a lot of energy looking for a solution
that could have been bought right off the shelf,” Testa said. These same
CIOs often are not open to other vendors or anyone else “who may have
other ways of solving certain problems,” Testa said.

The CIO with this habit also will build products or provide
services because they can, not because the company, or anyone else, needs them,
explains Nikolich, who said this is the classic “solution looking for a
problem” syndrome. The CIO or someone in his department develops a product
to sell either in-house or on the open market. It dazzles the IT department.

But no one needs it.

This hardly reflects well on the IT department, which can
lose quite a bit of credibility with the other non-IT departments and
personnel. This can spell smaller budgets and work staff. However, that isn’t
the only reason this CIO is unsuccessful. This habit also is a very expensive
one. Their solutions cost more time to develop and produce. Those same
“solutions” could well be abandoned a short time later if a higher
C-level employee gets wind of a better way—or even a worse way—if the in-house
solution is genuinely a bad idea.

One of the hardest things for any leader to do is give
negative feedback. But it doesn’t have to result in wounded egos if it’s
delivered properly. In “How to give negative feedback and get positive
results,” we give tips for making the best of a bad situation, along with
pertinent examples of these tips in practice.

Question: What’s
the three-step process to give negative feedback but obtain positive results?

Answer: (1) “Figure
out what you want,” says Peter Woolford, Boston IT and Engineering Search
market manager for Kforce Inc. When you know what you want, you’ll have a
clearer idea of how to proceed. (2) Act swiftly. If you identify a problem,
address it immediately. Don’t wait two weeks or several months. (3) Be
consistent. Give clear instruction, and make sure you enforce it.

Successful leaders know that their success depends on their
reputation with their staff as well as with business peers. TechRepublic’s “The qualities of
leaders”
PDF gives you a crucial glimpse into the mechanics of
leadership.