For Wilson, manager of applications development at Galileo, trying to cross an
imaginary river with her team brought to light one of her management styles. In the
exercise, the group used planks to reach stepping stones to ford the river. The group
needed to come up with a plan on how to use the planks. Wilson grew impatient and
suggested they just get out there and do it, only to realize halfway out that the
planks weren't long enough to reach the stones. "I realized that I am task oriented,
and 'I' like to get to the end as quick as possible without first looking at all the
possible risks," Wilson says. An important lesson she says she took away was "how to
internally adjust 'personality characteristics' for the benefit of a team."
At Avnet in Phoenix, Ariz., a worldwide
distributor of computer components, CIO Steve Bandrowczak takes a different tack on
developing leadership skills closer to home. He and his IT staff engage in
team-building exercises such as bowling, desert jeep tours, and community service
projects. Every three months, Bandrowczak hosts a Breakfast with Steve, as another way
of promoting a team approach, sharing the technical direction of the company, and
insuring his visibility to each employee. Recently, his IT staff painted a home in the
community as a weekend project. "You spend more hours in the office than you do at
home, 'so' you have to have fun, 'and' you have to enjoy your work environment,"
Yet in other IT settings, the frenetic pace requires other leadership approaches.
Marc Armstrong, a technical recruiter with PenCom Systems, a recruiting and consultancy
firm, believes that in startups' fast-paced IT departments, the work hard, play hard
mentality drives a lot of the team building. People working 60- to 70-hour workweeks at
startups have little time for extra training programs. To offset the grueling work
hours, companies plan off-site company meetings in exotic locations such as the Bahamas
or Mexico and provide regular Friday afternoon happy hours on the office patio to
promote camaraderie. "Companies like close-knit teams and want to have a good working
dynamic," Armstrong says.