I wrote about this topic in September, asking What's your focus? Think of your available time as a "pie," and how you divide your time as "slices" of the pie. That's your time for the week. You can't make the pie any bigger, unless you want to work through the weekend. How do you spend this available time?
I sometimes like to reflect on my own performance, and today I'd like to share my own "journey" of lead-manage-do throughout various points in my career. This is a good way to demonstrate how focus shifts at different levels in an IT organization. People must divide their time differently, focused into specific areas, depending on what is important for their role in the organization.
Here is my journey:
|Systems administrator: geographics company|
We always looked for more efficient ways to do things, and for new business opportunities. I remember taking my first step towards leadership, proposing a vision to our vice president: let's take advantage of this new "World Wide Web" thing, set up a web server where people could type in their address, and we'd give them a simple line-drawing map of their neighborhood, indicating other information we could provide them by calling our sales department. Our vice president rejected the idea, claiming "No one wants free maps on the Internet." (Mapquest started offering "free maps on the Internet" the following year, in 1996.)
After about a year, we had some turnover in our department, including my manager. I shifted into a manager role as Associate Manager of IS. But to be honest, I was still just a systems administrator who also managed a very small team; my focus was the "do" of systems administration.
|Working manager: law firm|
But again, I occasionally exercised "leadership" by providing a vision for future options in technology. I once shared an idea with our CIO that we could simplify the management of our desktop computers by leveraging "The Web." I proposed that we could move our email systems to use a "webmail" interface (then a new idea) and several of our backoffice applications to web applications. All we'd need to run on the desktop is Microsoft Office and a few other key applications. But the company didn't have the spare funds to make such a conversion. In 1998, the company shut its doors. I moved on.
|Manager: OIT Web Team|
My focus was manager, but I was still a working manager, although less so than at the law firm. I would lend a hand with managing the Unix systems, assisting my team with the day-to-day systems administration tasks. I divided my time between "manage" and "do," with some "lead," but most of my time was now in management.
|Manager: Linux and Unix|
I had a few other positions within OIT after that, growing to manage all of the systems administration teams within the Office of Information Technology.
|Senior Manager: Operations and Infrastucture|
In this role, I provided much more leadership: Tracking trends, anticipating future needs, developing vision and strategies to achieve goals, and engaging others. By this time, I consciously tried to exercise "lead-manage-do," putting my focus on "manage-lead." But sometimes "life" got in the way. For example, during a particularly difficult PeopleSoft upgrade, I was called on to help a "SWAT team" fix an enterprise printing issue (I wrote a simple program that acted as a print filter). So as much as I tried to minimize it, I sometimes performed a few "do" tasks.
|Director: Information Technology|