Welcome to life balance. Over the coming months I will post examples of where I have sought out activities beyond work that have contributed to my well being and hence my effectiveness as a leader. Put another way, you can only be at your best for others if you look after yourself first.
How often have you sat in a meeting when all you can think about is the phone call you desperately need to make to meet a personal deadline? Would it perhaps be better to be late to the meeting having made the call? Would you then be better placed to give everyone your complete attention? Well I for one believe and know the answer to be yes. You have probably heard the phrase from life coaches - being in the moment. This is at the core of being the very best you can be.
We can apply this to all walks of life. We have all spoken to someone only to find they are “somewhere else”. Annoying isn’t it? You probably choose to engage a more lively individual in your interesting conversation as a result. If we can direct more of our attention towards those around us then surely we will get more out of life?
In the mountains I am surrounded by outstanding scenery and walking with exciting new friends. Every time I feel myself contemplating events in the past or future I challenge myself to be arriving at a conclusion that betters me. If there is no conclusion to be found I quickly return the inspirational sights and sounds around me.
What if we could do that every day?
On a number of occasions I have found myself operating as a business leader alongside a project manager. This is most likely to occur in an IT systems project where there is a requirement for specialist knowledge in systems architecture, development and infrastructure. When you get to projects with a budget of over $50m it is inevitable that the IT project manager and business lead will have a similar status within the company.
So is this a problem? If the fundamental decisions that affect the project can be made in isolation by the IT or Business leader then no. Is bespoke or off the shelf best, do we use waterfall or RAD, do we have regional instances or one global instance, how and when does the business input to design, etc? Still want the two leaders working in isolation?
The business stakeholders need to own this issue. I have seen this work best where the Governance Board for the project (you have a governance board don’t you?) are clear on who they hold accountable for the various decision points in the project. Sometimes they will need to look for a consensus view from the IT and Business leader.
There is not a one size fits all answer to this as it often depends on the individuals involved and how the organisation holds the relative importance of business and IT leads.
What matters is the quality of the relationship between the IT and Business lead. I would like to offer the following as considerations in service of this being a harmonious and constructive one.
- each of you list the accountabilities of both roles and compare notes. Then agree a list and use that as a baseline for subsequent alignment meetings until you both get comfortable with the inevitable grey areas.
- discuss where there are opportunities for you to be supportive of each other. A little humility goes a long way to developing a strong relationship
- when you are unhappy with something, get together at the earliest opportunity to discuss what happened
- take time to acknowledge each others strengths and what went well in the course of the week.
- share the concerns you have for the project and develop a common language to use with key stakeholders such as the CIO and CFO. You must both speak with one voice or the business will lose confidence in your joint leadership
- spend some time over a meal now and then just to get to know each other better