|By Michael Bushong||
|July 1, 2014 06:00 AM EDT||
Frequently in peoples’ careers, ascension to the ranks of middle management is rapid. But then something happens. A small number of people break through, but the majority of folks seem to reach those middle tiers and then stall out. People often find themselves unable to be effective operating at the Director and Senior Director levels. The skill of orchestrating cross-functional teams proves elusive. Indeed, it is difficult to make people over whom you have no direct authority do what you need them to do.
The response for many people is an almost reflexive plea for empowerment. But there is a fundamental flaw in requesting to be empowered as you aspire to higher ranks.
What does empowered actually mean?
Empower actually means to give someone power. It’s really somewhat ironic. The very thing that you crave is authority, but you do not have the authority unless you are given it by someone else. There is no greater definition for lack of empowerment than actively seeking someone’s permission to have authority.
Forgetting that Merriam-Webster moment, the challenge with seeking empowerment is that it is a self-defeating activity. The request for empowerment highlights that you do not have it – to both your boss and to the people over whom you seek to have some sort of control.
Consider a moment a situation where requests for empowerment are common. If you are in a business role, there might be debates about the right course to take. Perhaps you are in a technical role and the merits of one architectural approach are being measured against another. Whatever the situation, the reason that people want empowerment in the moment is because they find themselves in a stalemate, and they are looking to tip the vote in their favor.
The challenge here is that the very reason you want empowerment is the reason that a mandate handed down from high is not likely to work. Decisions are frequently made high up in an organization, but it is the actions of the individuals that matter. And if they are asked to do something they don’t believe in (or worse yet, something they believe to be the wrong thing to do), no amount of mandate will make them work effectively.
In situations like these, the request for empowerment is actually an acknowledgement that the individual has failed to lead the group to an outcome. As someone in management, the question this raises for me is simple: should an individual who cannot lead people to an outcome be made more of a leader?
Now, the answer here is never crystal clear. And I don’t want to suggest that empowerment doesn’t ever matter. But the best leaders lead not through mandate but through conviction. They are able to outline a vision, sell it to their teammates, and then drive towards it. In the best teams, this is done without any real mandate or official empowerment. It just happens.
So as a leader, when you find yourself in a position that you are requesting empowerment, it likely signals a moment that you ought to be more introspective.
Are you taking enough initiative?
In far too many cases, there actually is rough consensus amongst team members, but everyone is operating under the assumption that someone else will make the call. All the team really needs is to be nudged in the right direction. In times like these, it is often enough to simply make a call and move the team forward.
If you find that the reason for inaction is inertia, you might consider just making the decision. That you are willing to stand up and say what direction ought to be taken might be enough to rally people behind your decision. And if this is the case, it demonstrates that you are both willing and able to lead teams.
Don’t be afraid to be wrong
It is amazing how many people are unwilling to make a decision because they are afraid of being wrong. A lot of these empowerment battles happen because people are passive about their convictions. There is a real fear of taking a stand because they are worried that either their position is not right or that people will not follow.
Oftentimes, it is sufficient to just make a decision and put the decision out there. It might not be the right one, but people will react to the decision and then iterate on it. This puts you in position to solicit input and modify the decision, which demonstrates your willingness to listen, which further solidifies your role at the lead.
Are you considering the individuals?
Especially in technical debates, we tend to assume that the merits of the discussion are 100% logical. But without understanding what is driving peoples’ positions, we cannot possibly hope to convince everyone to move in a particular direction. Those who are looking for empowerment are frequently trying to make a decision based on logic for an outcome that has an element of emotion.
Make sure that you understand every dissenting point of view. You should know not just the logical part of the argument but the emotional side that is backstopping it. If you have convinced yourself that there is no emotional side, then you need to start looking at base assumptions to see where people are diverging. If you assume the root of any conflict is logic, you are likely not fully considering the situation, which means that no amount of empowerment is going to help you.
The bottom line
As you move upward in your career, you will invariably find yourself in positions where you do not have complete control over everyone you need to do your job. Early on in this process, we all believe that mandate is the missing ingredient for making progress. But leadership is about leading, which goes well beyond mandate. If you find yourself demanding to be empowered so that you can make progress on a difficult task, chances are that you are discounting the role of the individual in leading a team.
In these moments, choose to be more introspective and determine if the real missing ingredient is command and control, or whether actual success gated by your willingness and ability to lead. More often than not, you will find that your pursuit of empowerment is misguided.
[Today’s fun fact: A group of cats is called a clowder. I couldn’t decide whether to make a cloud or a cat chowder joke here.]
A strange thing is happening along the way to the Internet of Things, namely far too many devices to work with and manage. It has become clear that we'll need much higher efficiency user experiences that can allow us to more easily and scalably work with the thousands of devices that will soon be in each of our lives. Enter the conversational interface revolution, combining bots we can literally talk with, gesture to, and even direct with our thoughts, with embedded artificial intelligence, wh...
Jun. 27, 2016 07:30 AM EDT Reads: 979
Cloud computing is being adopted in one form or another by 94% of enterprises today. Tens of billions of new devices are being connected to The Internet of Things. And Big Data is driving this bus. An exponential increase is expected in the amount of information being processed, managed, analyzed, and acted upon by enterprise IT. This amazing is not part of some distant future - it is happening today. One report shows a 650% increase in enterprise data by 2020. Other estimates are even higher....
Jun. 26, 2016 05:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,302
SYS-CON Events announced today that Bsquare has been named “Silver Sponsor” of SYS-CON's @ThingsExpo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. For more than two decades, Bsquare has helped its customers extract business value from a broad array of physical assets by making them intelligent, connecting them, and using the data they generate to optimize business processes.
Jun. 26, 2016 05:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,211
19th Cloud Expo, taking place November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. Cloud computing is now being embraced by a majority of enterprises of all sizes. Yesterday's debate about public vs. private has transformed into the reality of hybrid cloud: a recent survey shows that 74% of enterprises have a hybrid cloud strategy. Meanwhile, 94% of enterpri...
Jun. 26, 2016 04:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,318
Internet of @ThingsExpo, taking place November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, is co-located with 19th Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. The Internet of Things (IoT) is the most profound change in personal and enterprise IT since the creation of the Worldwide Web more than 20 years ago. All major researchers estimate there will be tens of billions devices - comp...
Jun. 26, 2016 04:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,257
Connected devices and the industrial internet are growing exponentially every year with Cisco expecting 50 billion devices to be in operation by 2020. In this period of growth, location-based insights are becoming invaluable to many businesses as they adopt new connected technologies. Knowing when and where these devices connect from is critical for a number of scenarios in supply chain management, disaster management, emergency response, M2M, location marketing and more. In his session at @Th...
Jun. 26, 2016 03:00 PM EDT Reads: 982
It is one thing to build single industrial IoT applications, but what will it take to build the Smart Cities and truly society changing applications of the future? The technology won’t be the problem, it will be the number of parties that need to work together and be aligned in their motivation to succeed. In his Day 2 Keynote at @ThingsExpo, Henrik Kenani Dahlgren, Portfolio Marketing Manager at Ericsson, discussed how to plan to cooperate, partner, and form lasting all-star teams to change t...
Jun. 26, 2016 02:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,147
The cloud market growth today is largely in public clouds. While there is a lot of spend in IT departments in virtualization, these aren’t yet translating into a true “cloud” experience within the enterprise. What is stopping the growth of the “private cloud” market? In his general session at 18th Cloud Expo, Nara Rajagopalan, CEO of Accelerite, explored the challenges in deploying, managing, and getting adoption for a private cloud within an enterprise. What are the key differences between wh...
Jun. 26, 2016 01:00 PM EDT Reads: 805
The 19th International Cloud Expo has announced that its Call for Papers is open. Cloud Expo, to be held November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, brings together Cloud Computing, Big Data, Internet of Things, DevOps, Digital Transformation, Microservices and WebRTC to one location. With cloud computing driving a higher percentage of enterprise IT budgets every year, it becomes increasingly important to plant your flag in this fast-expanding business opportuni...
Jun. 26, 2016 12:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,290
Internet of @ThingsExpo, taking place November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, is co-located with the 19th International Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world and ThingsExpo Silicon Valley Call for Papers is now open.
Jun. 26, 2016 12:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,110
There is little doubt that Big Data solutions will have an increasing role in the Enterprise IT mainstream over time. Big Data at Cloud Expo - to be held November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA - has announced its Call for Papers is open. Cloud computing is being adopted in one form or another by 94% of enterprises today. Tens of billions of new devices are being connected to The Internet of Things. And Big Data is driving this bus. An exponential increase is...
Jun. 26, 2016 12:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,351
In his general session at 18th Cloud Expo, Lee Atchison, Principal Cloud Architect and Advocate at New Relic, discussed cloud as a ‘better data center’ and how it adds new capacity (faster) and improves application availability (redundancy). The cloud is a ‘Dynamic Tool for Dynamic Apps’ and resource allocation is an integral part of your application architecture, so use only the resources you need and allocate /de-allocate resources on the fly.
Jun. 26, 2016 12:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,088
In his keynote at 18th Cloud Expo, Andrew Keys, Co-Founder of ConsenSys Enterprise, provided an overview of the evolution of the Internet and the Database and the future of their combination – the Blockchain. Andrew Keys is Co-Founder of ConsenSys Enterprise. He comes to ConsenSys Enterprise with capital markets, technology and entrepreneurial experience. Previously, he worked for UBS investment bank in equities analysis. Later, he was responsible for the creation and distribution of life sett...
Jun. 26, 2016 11:00 AM EDT Reads: 1,116
Machine Learning helps make complex systems more efficient. By applying advanced Machine Learning techniques such as Cognitive Fingerprinting, wind project operators can utilize these tools to learn from collected data, detect regular patterns, and optimize their own operations. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, Stuart Gillen, Director of Business Development at SparkCognition, discussed how research has demonstrated the value of Machine Learning in delivering next generation analytics to imp...
Jun. 26, 2016 09:45 AM EDT Reads: 634
There are several IoTs: the Industrial Internet, Consumer Wearables, Wearables and Healthcare, Supply Chains, and the movement toward Smart Grids, Cities, Regions, and Nations. There are competing communications standards every step of the way, a bewildering array of sensors and devices, and an entire world of competing data analytics platforms. To some this appears to be chaos. In this power panel at @ThingsExpo, moderated by Conference Chair Roger Strukhoff, Bradley Holt, Developer Advocate a...
Jun. 26, 2016 08:45 AM EDT Reads: 748
Cognitive Computing is becoming the foundation for a new generation of solutions that have the potential to transform business. Unlike traditional approaches to building solutions, a cognitive computing approach allows the data to help determine the way applications are designed. This contrasts with conventional software development that begins with defining logic based on the current way a business operates. In her session at 18th Cloud Expo, Judith S. Hurwitz, President and CEO of Hurwitz & ...
Jun. 25, 2016 03:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,622
SYS-CON Events announced today that ReadyTalk, a leading provider of online conferencing and webinar services, has been named Vendor Presentation Sponsor at the 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. ReadyTalk delivers audio and web conferencing services that inspire collaboration and enable the Future of Work for today’s increasingly digital and mobile workforce. By combining intuitive, innovative tec...
Jun. 24, 2016 01:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,362
Amazon has gradually rolled out parts of its IoT offerings, but these are just the tip of the iceberg. In addition to optimizing their backend AWS offerings, Amazon is laying the ground work to be a major force in IoT - especially in the connected home and office. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Chris Kocher, founder and managing director of Grey Heron, explained how Amazon is extending its reach to become a major force in IoT by building on its dominant cloud IoT platform, its Dash Button strat...
Jun. 24, 2016 12:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,659
industrial company for a multi-year contract initially valued at over $4.0 million. In addition to DataV software, Bsquare will also provide comprehensive systems integration, support and maintenance services. DataV leverages advanced data analytics, predictive reasoning, data-driven diagnostics, and automated orchestration of remediation actions in order to improve asset uptime while reducing service and warranty costs.
Jun. 22, 2016 11:00 AM EDT Reads: 1,372
Vidyo, Inc., has joined the Alliance for Open Media. The Alliance for Open Media is a non-profit organization working to define and develop media technologies that address the need for an open standard for video compression and delivery over the web. As a member of the Alliance, Vidyo will collaborate with industry leaders in pursuit of an open and royalty-free AOMedia Video codec, AV1. Vidyo’s contributions to the organization will bring to bear its long history of expertise in codec technolo...
Jun. 19, 2016 12:45 PM EDT Reads: 1,279