On Leadership : 5 things I learned at Edelman acting as VP technology



Three years ago I was asked to join Edelman to orchestrate the turnaround of their North American technology group. With my March anniversary I thought I’d share a few things learned about leadership, management and working in a company whose norms and culture don’t align with what one would see in a software company.

As the “CEO" of the technology organization, ultimately accountable for the team’s results I provided vision not just for the technology team but the whole organization. I established processes and practices for realizing that vision, set the bar for quality and decided on the kind of work environment to foster. Many of these I brought with me to validate along the way while others I learned the hard way.

  1. Pick your battles : It's critical to make sure that time is spent in ways that will have the biggest impact. You might be right, might have a gold plated SOW but the client is always right. Say you're sorry, absorb the costs and move on. Nobody wants to be blamed, especially unfairly, but our energy cannot go into defending ourselves.
  2. Don't underestimate the mechanics needed to actually make your team run. Define the vision, live the culture, put process and practices in place, recruit, hire, coach incessantly and represent your role within the organization.
  3. There's definitely less pressure if you only focus on growing revenue. But It's not always about growing revenue -- focus on the small things; make more money than you lose; cut costs when needed; and, when necessary, pivot to a more promising business.
  4. Management is about making a better person of oneself. Income, power, and title have nothing to do with it. Work with human and cultural factors. Manage your superiors, establishing a good rapport with peers, hire good people and help them to do the same. Your success is due to how you end up managing yourself and your personality.
  5. Do not try to change your core beliefs but work hard to improve the way you perform. The more skilled you become in handling differences and change without creating or getting involved in conflict, the more successful you will become. Identify what you are doing to perpetuate a situation, listen to others and try to understand their perspective. That’s how you learn where you have leverage to affect the system. Simply by changing your own behavior, you gain at least some influence over the problem.

This is a personal post. The opinions expressed here represent my own and not those of my employer.