In 2011, author Bob Lewis published the book, “Leading IT: Still the toughest job in the world, Second edition.” The book tackles some of the most challenging areas to address in an IT organization. Often the problems have little to do with the technology nor the process. The issues usually have to do with the people, inside and outside of the IT organization.
Here are the takeaway lessons I picked up from reading the book.
Staffing is the most important job for a leader, in addition to getting results.
Employees are not just collections of skills and abilities. They bring to their work motivation, loyalty, knowledge of the company, and most important of all the ability to drive success. If all you want is a collection of skills and abilities, hire a contractor or consultant.
A leader should recruit and develop the capable employees she has, even more than the employees she wants. Losing capable employees is costly and time-consuming.
Great employees are more profitable than average ones and immeasurably more profitable than the poor ones.
Delay filling an open position is not a profitable move. As a leader, if you do not think the organization profits from the opening, do not open the position in the first place.
Holding employees accountable is a mistake and pointless. A leader fails when her employees fail. The more sensible alternative is hiring and retaining employees who take responsibility.
Terminate poor performers without regret, without anger, but with dignity. When someone is not succeeding in his or her role, a leader needs to put someone else in place who can thrive. When someone tried in earnest and failed in a wrong role, the leader needs to share part of the responsibility.