Effectively Developing Leadership in Tech

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    Harness the Power of the Pause: Using Silence to Create Opportunities

    Figuring out how to develop new leaders within your organization is especially tough in tech, where employees tend to be young and the market changes quickly.

    But companies have to figure it out, according to a Wall Street Journal piece, before they notice an exodus toward door.

    The Hackett Group’s John Reeves and Michel Janssen also stressed that need in a recent interview with my colleague Loraine Lawson on IT Business Edge.

    The Journal piece is based on research by the authors, Robert M. Fulmer and Byron Hanson of Duke Corporate Education, an affiliate of Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business.

    They note that there are cultural barriers to leadership training – for instance, the lure of being the smartest techie in the room doesn’t lend itself to helping to develop others. And then there’s the fear that formal leadership training can quash the innovative spirit that thrives in startups.

    “Peer coaching” seems to work at some tech organizations, where employees in similar positions work together for a few days, then report on how it went. That feedback tends to be based on “what I’ve seen here,” rather than coaching between a superior and subordinate.

    They also suggest holding managers’ feet to the fire by keeping tabs on how often they have conversations with underlings about their career development.

    Google, which of course loves to track data on everything, also tried to apply analytics to management. Employees rate their managers twice a year on factors such as “the manager treats me with respect, the manager gives me clear goals, the manager shares information, the manager treats the entire team fairly,” according to a New York Times article.

    Laszlo Bock, senior vice president for people operations at Google, told the Times that the company has significantly improved workers’ satisfaction with their managers through this process. However, he said, applying data to leadership is less clear-cut. He called leadership “a more ambiguous and amorphous set of characteristics.”

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