ServiceMaster’s former Chief Information officer, Linda Goodspeed, describes the core priorities to being a solid leader.
“I believe you have to have an open-door policy and an open mind. You can’t just get information from people who directly report to you. You need to reach down deeper into the organization and create relationships throughout all levels to develop a full understanding on happenings within the organization. This knowledge will lead to better decision-making.
“You need to listen because everybody comes with preconceived notions. You need to eliminate that bias. You also have to make people comfortable enough that they know you’re approachable. I think the worst thing you can do is dictate what people are going to do. Not only does that demotivate the entire organization, but it might ignore some basic issues that people know could have been course-corrected had you taken time to listen.”
Empower People to Lead
“I believe you need to hire excellence. When you hire excellent people, they really don’t want to be micromanaged. I really, really believe that I need to hire people who are better than me at what they do. As you move up in an organization, you become more and more of a generalist, so you need to hire someone who is excellent and give them free reign to do their jobs.”
“Even though you’ve hired excellent people, they still need to learn what to escalate and when to escalate. Some people are afraid to say their project is in trouble, but it is in the best interest of the entire organization to recognize issues quickly, add resources to address the problem and to move forward. So one of my biggest rules is to remove roadblocks and not be afraid to confront issues.”
“I believe sometimes people just aren’t told that they are accountable for results, and then they point at someone else as being the problem for why they couldn’t deliver. When you tell people you’re accountable and I’m empowering you, they step up to it. They embrace it. It forces them to use their brains to solve the problems in front of them.”
“I’ve never cut the IT training budget regardless of how bad the economy was. That’s when people have the time to learn. I believe that everyone, especially in technology, needs to remain relevant, and that’s the way you really excite technology people anyway—learning about new innovation and applying it to the business. I don’t ever believe in cutting training.”
“If you’re not absolutely transparent in your thought process and consistent, then you’re just fooling people. You need to solicit input from those around you and generate lines of open communication in order to move forward rapidly, allowing your business to sustain a competitive advantage.”
Linda Goodspeed is the former Chief Information Officer of ServiceMaster. Her full feature story will appear in Forefront’s March/April 2014 issue. Subscribe to our weekly newsletter to get the full story delivered to your inbox when it is released.