June 16, 2005

Don't Lead, Enable!

I just read, with great enthusiasm, Bruce MacEwen's post, "To CIO's Seeking 'Buy-In:' Snap Out of It", wherein he quotes Michael Shrage's CIO.com article, "Buttressing the Business":

[Bruce:] But without buy-in, where are we? Aren't we still staring at a landscape of still-born tech initiatives? Actually, there is an alternative. CIO's (and their departments) need to stop thinking of themselves as "leaders" [stay with me on this one, folks] and become "enablers:"
[Bruce quoting Michael] "In other words, IT shouldn't be a change or transformation leader; it should be a change or transformation enabler. What's the essential difference? For the purpose of this column, leaders are those individuals most responsible and accountable for setting the right objectives and ensuring the right results. Enablers, by contrast, are those individuals most responsible and accountable for providing leaders with the tools, techniques and technologies for achieving those objectives and results. Enablers make effective leadership practical and probable."
Thanks for summing up my philosophy so eloquently. Long-time readers may recall my feature article, "Are You an "Enabler?" published here the first month I went live (Sept. 2003).

To sum it up:

- Find or create something that acts as an enabler.
- Share it with someone who can run with it.
- Then get the heck out of the way!
If you've found a good fit, you'll likely find that you don't have to do much selling yourself. Your customer will take care of that.

Set them up to succeed and provide support when needed. Then you're working from a much stronger position of a "pull" than a "push". They will want to pull the solution from you, rather than you trying to "push" it on them. It's not easy, and it often requires some cleverness on your part to figure out how to do that. (That's why they hired you, right?)

Is this a bit radical? Probably. Will it always work? No. But don't let that stop you from trying. Fail forward.

[By the way, we're so much on the same page here that I authored the title for this post before I read the linked CIO.com article and its subheadings. Innovative minds sometimes do think alike...]

Topic(s):   Law Practice Management
Posted by Jeff Beard