Monday, June 9, 2014

Leading an open worklife in the sharing economy

As I've written about earlier this week, the continued impact of mobile, social and cloud technologies on all areas of work are leading us to lead increasingly more open and positive work styles. A few recent experiences have reinforced how important this combined style is, and why it's an ongoing process of personal reinvention.

Last Christmas I had quite the argument with my family at the holiday dinner table. A willfully (reprehensibly?) obstructionist Republican party in the US Congress, a dictatorial Prime Minister in Canada and a retrograde, chauvenistic Premier (at the time) in Quebec, combined with clownish opposition in all three cases, led to cynical resignation.

Something clicked and I spoke out in anger. I argued that it's easy to use "politicians are corrupt and weak" as an excuse for inaction (complaining is not an action). We have to be active participants in our democracies and be the change we want to see, no matter how small our direct or indirect influence may be.

Part of the reason I was argumentative was exhaustion from my new ascension to the role of Marketing Programs Manager for IBM collaboration software and SaaS 9 earlier that fall.

Since then, it's been an even more challenging time for me, my team, my business unit, and even IBM as a whole. Those challenges, combined with my less-than-stellar ability to properly manage and prioritize those challenges, left me feeling tired, burned out, perhaps a little cynical. And, it turns out, perhaps a little hypocritical as well. For while I was excoriating my family at Christmas. I was slowly, but most assuredly, letting myself become cynical at work, complaining about the limits imposed on me rather than focusing on what I could do, either directly or through my considerable influence.

That lack of self-awareness clicked when I was in a new managers' class last week. I am responsible for my own choices, and that my words matter, and my attitude even more, and that I do have a span of not just control, but an even larger span of influence. All this is especially important now that I'm responsible for 11 fantastic, talented, hard-working people. I can become the manager I've always wanted to work for, but it would mean a lot less time spent doing and complaining, and a lot more time coaching and leading.

Also last week, I reconnected with a dear colleague of mine, Luis Suarez. We worked together when he was one of the top internet IBM advocates for a social approach to business. After 17 years at IBM (coincidentally how much time I've almost been here), he just left IBM to pursue his own path. (And so has Susan Emerick, I just found out, another colleague I've admired.) We just had a fantastic discussion over the phone yesterday, and hearing his recent change of life has given me hope that the open and positive workstyle is not just an ideal, but an increasingly viable way to succeed in this changing maketplace of ideas.

Being open and positive isn't easy. It's going to require a significant shift in our mindset. It's going to require us getting a lot more comfortable with uncertainty. But the benefits are going to be legendary, whether in creating true engagement in the mass market of the workforce (and not just in the rare employee or entrepreneur). The potential to me seems limitless.

What about you? How are social and mobile and cloud technologies changing how you are working today?

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