February 13, 2012, 2:12 PM — Ask a Premier 100 IT Leader: Doug Beebe
The corporate manager for information systems at Toyota Motor Sales USA answers questions about managers who get buried in the details and more.
We've gone through some devastating rounds of layoffs, and I've been doffing my manager's hat more and more to get hands-on with the technology -- just because there's no one else to do it. But my CIO says a manager should manage, not work with, technology. I would agree if I weren't facing a mountain of things that won't get done without my help. What should I do? Early in my career, I found myself in a similar situation. My CIO at the time taught me three valuable lessons that I still incorporate in my management style to this day. She did not buy the "I don't have enough head count" argument as sufficient reason to get buried in the details in order to get the work done. Instead, she challenged me to create a vision and a set of strategies to drive the organization toward a new model that was capable of expanding and contracting as the demand shifted. She also believed that I found comfort in seeing the results of my work much sooner than with the leadership/management activities I was responsible for. Lastly, she suggested I do a little self-reflection regarding what I wanted to do with my career. She knew this would be tough but believed that anytime you are not able to perform to expectations, you should look at yourself to see what your part in it is.
What desirable qualities do you find most lacking in recent hires? Patience and leadership are two qualities I believe are not valued today to the extent they were in the past. The ability to obtain things as quickly as we can today has created a perception that slowing down is not productive. However, my experience tells me that inefficiencies in work processes can be reduced with better planning and a disciplined approach to delivering results. In addition, I believe in and subscribe to the philosophy that we need collaboration in the workplace. It generates better ideas and creates a more inclusive environment. However, there is an impact on leadership skills. The opportunities to naturally lead are reduced, and we need to be more attentive to the development of our future leaders.