January 20, 2010, 4:08 PM — If we think of the operation of IT being a lot like that of a complete business, it is important to think about the various types of skills and management styles beyond the typical functional areas, like apps and infrastructure. While it may be sufficient to develop a perspective on your team's strengths organically, a more measured and proactive approach should yield a higher-performing team.
For example, some of your team will be better suited to drive the analytical thinking required to measure IT's effectiveness, while others will be better fits for broad communications to customers and business leadership. Configured properly, the set of complementary strengths represented by your leadership team are very powerful--but you have to know who is really good in specific areas.
You can either guess at your team members' strengths or you can use a more scientific method. This theme came up at a recent CIO conference when organizational psychologist and leadership coach Bill Rollwitz discussed "Now, Discover Your Strengths," a book by Marcus Buckingham and Donald O. Clifton that focuses on enhancing people's strengths rather than eliminating their weaknesses. The book describes 34 positive personality themes and, through a Web-based tool, readers can complete a Gallup Organization questionnaire and instantly discover their own top-five inborn talents.
1. Is the team balanced across leadership and behavioral traits?
2. Is each member's role a good fit with his or her inherent behaviors?
A colleague of mine thinks of it in terms of building a "renaissance team" as opposed to seeking out "renaissance people." He says it feels as if there are two parts of the organization where this is most important and where the typical gaps happen. The first is between IT and the business. The second--and less obvious--area lies between the application team and the infrastructure team. In many cases, these individuals aren't only on different teams they are in different cities and may even work for different companies. They often form their identities based on functions rather than the projects they work on.
The System Quarterback CIO