Don Khouri Blog

How Far Can You See?

Posted by Don Khouri on Wed, Sep 22, 2010

I recently upgraded to progressive glasses.  Please hold the aging jokes.  Here is how they work:  they have three prescriptions built right in.  The top of the glasses are for long distance, the middle part of the glasses are for computer distance, and the bottom part of the glasses are for reading distance.  Depending on where you are looking, you will be looking through the appropriate section of the lens, and occasionally you may need to tip your head slightly to get to the right, leadership, technology leader, Khouri coaching, KCC

This got me thinking about your "vision" as a leader.  Technology leaders need to see clearly at all three levels.  The one that is the most familiar, that we read about in the leadership literature, and perhaps the most neglected is the vision of where we want to be in 3-5 years.  This I would consider distance vision.  What does long term success look, sound, and feel like?  If you were wildly successful in the coming years, what do you imagine or see yourself doing or being?  For an organization, an offsite meeting with management would be a good way to define this vision.  For example, you could ask the team to write a wall street journal article talking about the success of the organization say in 5 years, date it October 1, 2015.  You should update this vision every 2-3 years, and as your circumstances change.  How has your vision changed, for example, after 9/11, or after a shift in roles?  When you're clear about how your goals tie back to your vision, you will be more focused on them. 

Next is your medium term vision, the computer distance so to speak.  What should your world look like in 6 months or 12 months after you have completed all of your goals?  Think about it this way, your goals have a time horizon of 12 months.  What will things look like when all of those goals are completed?  What will the organization look like, your leadership team, the technology that you are responsible for?  The more clear your picture of these things, the more likely it is you are to achieve it.

Finally, let's look at your reading vision, perhaps 2-4 weeks out.  What is on the immediate horizon that requires your focus now?  Meetings that you have to prepare for?  Staff development?  Training?  Projects that need attention?  Think about October 20, 2010, what does it feel like looking back on what you accomplished in the last 4 weeks?  Congratulations in advance!

It is worthwhile to think at these different levels, and be good at adjusting easily amongst them.  When you have them clearly codified, you will be able to look in the right place at the right time.  And perhaps you will need to adjust slightly to ensure you are looking at the right horizon.

Don's Coaching Questions.

  • What requires your immediate attention right now?  What can you do to move in the right direction?
  • How clear are your goals and what you want to accomplish in the next 6-12 months?
  • How clear is your 3-5 year vision?

Tags: productivity, leadership, Technology leaders, technology vision

How Technology Leaders Can Improve Their Team's Motivation

Posted by Don Khouri on Mon, Jun 21, 2010


What makes our team members want to pursue their motivation, technology leader, productivitygoals?  When are they really motivated to achieve them, and when do they seem to be going along because it is required to do so?  There are three needs that must be fulfilled for individuals to want to pursue their goals -- competence, connected, and autonomy.

Competence.  We need to feel that we are good at what we are doing, and that we are adding value to a greater cause.  This is why it is so important to reward our team members in some way, acknowledge their contribution, and provide specifics on what they are doing well.  It is also critical to ensure that they understand what they are doing is tied to the organization mission.

Connected.  We need to feel connected to others, to care for others, and to have others care for us.  When working with technology teams, there is value in making sure this exists in some way through team building events, and social events.  When the members of the team are confident their teammates care about quality and care about the others, they are more likely to work toward the goals.

Autonomy.  Our technology team members want to feel that they have some choice in what they are doing.  The days of dictatorial leadership are long gone.  The complexity of our work requires technology leaders to engage their teams in determining their own goals that align with the organizational goals.

When these three needs are met, our team members (and technology leaders themselves for that matter) will be more committed to working towards, and achieving the goal. 

There are two types of motivation -- intrinsic and extrinsic.  Intrinsic motivation happens when we are interested in the activity, and we would do it independent of external factors.  Extrinsic motivation happens when we perform an activity because of some external driver like money or punishment. 

Studies have shown that intrinsic need satisfaction on the job will predict both performance ratings and psychological well-being of employees.  Those managers that support autonomy will facilitate satisfaction of all three intrinsic needs. 

When job satisfaction results from attainment of basic need satisfaction, it results in effective performance but when satisfaction results from attainment of desired outcomes that do not satisfy the basic needs, there is not effective performance.

Don's Coaching Questions

  • What is motivating your team members to perform effectively?
  • What is motiving you?
  • What steps can you take to validate your answers to the last 2 questions?

Source:  Deci, E.L., & Ryan, R.M. (2000).  The "what" and "why" of goal pursuits: Human needs and the self-determination of behavior.  Psychological Inquiry, 11 (4), 227-268

Tags: Technology leaders, motivation, self-determination theory