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Leadership in IT

Leadership is one of those subjects everyone has an opinion about. Visit any library or bookshop and you’ll find shelves of books written about leadership from military personnel to famous sportspeople, through to business pioneers and politicians. So one has to ask, why are we all not great leaders?

Course 1

Equally true, if you ask most individuals, you’ll find we have worked for managers that are seen as role models and those that are, in our eyes – nothing of the sort. This opens the discussion of whether management is leadership; are people born to be leaders? By this logic does that mean some of us will never be leaders?

If I look at leadership from an Information Technology point-of-view, we have three generic types of leadership. ‘People’, ‘matrix’, and ‘technical’ and just to add an extra layer of complexity, sometimes all three are required at the same time. So, how does this connect with the FUTURE LEADERS ACADEMY?Simple really, we in IT at Kiwibank needed to develop what I describe as our most important leaders - our operational team leaders.

On one side of the coin, we already had great team leaders; technically competent, good managers of process but all the same, still requiring some development in leadership. Those team leaders had already identified this development need and had become slightly frustrated that an appropriate course had not yet been found to aid with their capability uplift.

This prompted the first of two Kiwibank teams meeting with Future Leaders Academy staff for the 3 day upskilling experience. Given the brief on the course, there was no doubt that the teaching/learning style could have been seen as perplexing, direct and maybe a bit confrontational for some of the Kiwibank staff – particularly around being challenged to step out of their comfort zone...

I won’t cover what the teams completed during the course as I am sure other people can explain this far better than I could, however I do want to cover a couple of my own observations and some of the feedback commentary that I received during and post the course. From what I’ve come to see, the course was very much about ‘practical leadership’ of our team leaders and encouraging the opportunity for these cross functional teams to work as a unit outside of the confines of the workplace - performing simple to difficult and on occasions, near impossible tasks together. My observations of the Kiwibank staff - they were channelled, forced out of their comfort zone, but always supported and encouraged by Jethro (and team) and their Kiwibank peers.

What did become very clear was the methodology of Appreciation, Planning, Communicate, Coordinate and Evaluate process often saved the day. Being allowed to ‘learn’ this in a safe and supported place was also welcomed. Prior to attending the course many had made comment about not having the time. Balancing this with their voluntary feedback and without exception, the attendees all praised the course. The style of learning aided with realistic ways in which they could (both individually and as a team) make some positive changes to their leadership styles on their return to the workplace.

Now, a couple of months on, the attendees are still speaking about the course and working together as a team to follow-up on their actions and goals set over the three days. This has resulted in enhanced leadership within Kiwibank’s IT function and by referring back to this learning and development from the Future Leaders Academy, will continue to grow that leadership capability into the future.

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