Archive for September 1st, 2009
This goes back to an earlier post on this subject that was based on the monthly column that I wrote for I write a monthly column in AFCEA’s Signal magazine. My column in the August issue is headlined:
Trite But True: It All Comes Down to Leadership
Good leadership is transformational and is different from management
In the column, I note that I did a Amazon.com search for books about leadership, and it probably will not surprise anyone that my search came up with 348,433 hits. So on one level, we understand it—leadership is important. And I went on to tell the story about EPA’s Jeremy Ames, who did the first government open contest — in this case, for people who created a public service announcement around radon gas. (See the videos from here.) And I noted in the column that the great thing about the videos is that then EPA CIO Molly O’Neill and then EPA Deputy Administrator Marcus Peacock didn’t know it was going on. My conclusion was that was a demonstration of transformation at EPA — the fact that people felt safe enough to try something out that could change the way the organization does business — it seems very powerful to me.
As I said, you can read the full column here.
Alan Balutis [PDF bio], the director and distinguished fellow for Cisco’s Internet Business Solutions Group and the former Commerce Department CIO, sent me a note soon after that column was published in which he asked if he could take exception to my column. I told him I was thrilled that the column spurred a discussion — and, in fact, we will start that discussion — Allan gets to disagree with me publicly Tuesday at 10a ET on Federal News Radio 1500 AM’s Government IT Solutions Spotlight… and in the October issue of Signal magazine.
His arguement: There is way too much focus on leadership — and not nearly enough focus on management. To that end, Balutis did an Amazon.com search about management and found 105,818 hits – less than a third of those on leadership.
And, in fact, on Federal News Radio 1500 AM’s Government IT Solutions Spotlight, Balutis got a chance to make his point that management isn’t sexy, but it is essential — and often overlooked. You can hear that conversation here.
It’s interesting because when I posted this on my Facebook page, I got all sorts of comments — mostly from people arguing that it is, in fact, a leadership issue.
Here is a sample:
Harold Gracey, who retired from government service after more than 30 years most recently as Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Information and Technology and acting Chief Information Officer of the Department of Veterans Affairs… “Management is easy…it’s a learned discipline with standard processes…leadership is a whole different animal, and the government needs more real leadership!”
Misti Burmeister, CEO of Inspirion and author of the book From Boomers To Bloggers: Success Strategies Across Generations… “Leadership feeds management – processes need to be managed – people prefer to be lead. Lead the people and they’ll do a great job managing the process. Set a clear vision/mission, hold employees accountable, know your employees, reward them, appreciate them…that’s good leadership…M:)
Bob Suda, who retired from goverment service after more then 30 years, most recently as the acting director of Transportation Department’s Volpe Center… LEADERSHIP. We are sorely lacking it!!!!
Marissa Levin The government is too large of an entity to make a mass generalization about any topic. Anyone who works with the government knows that every agency has its own strengths, challenges, and culture. There are exceptional leaders throughout our government. The key is to capture their best practices and cascade them throughout the rest of the organizations.
Paul Brubaker, now with Cisco, formerly the DOD deputy CIO and most recently the Transportation Department’s Research and Innovative Technology Administration (RITA)… Lt Gen Bob Shea would always say “at the end of the day it is always about leadership.”
On Federal News Radio’s Government IT Solutions Spotlight, we specifically talk about John Koskinen, who I first met when he was the deputy director for management at the Office of Management and Budget during the Clinton administration. He went on to lead the Y2K efforts, be the deputy mayor for Washington, DC, lead U.S. Soccer… He is one of the best leaders — and managers — that I have ever seen. He builds consensus and yet keeps large organizations moving forward. Balutis’s point is that the list of people in the Koskinen category is very short.
I’m still interested in thoughts — how does one define leadership? How does one define management? And what is the relationship between the two?
We’ll chat about it tonight on DC’s News Channel 8.