We primarily discuss technology trends and how they impact various industries and their customers in this space. The excitement of discovering new solutions, standards and protocols and understanding what their impact will be as networks grow and mature to meet the Web-scale demands of today’s businesses is pretty significant.
Amidst all that energy and buzz, it’s easy to forget that people are the drivers of any successful organization and the technology and solutions it produces, and the Web-scale networks of today and tomorrow are built around the determination of a dedicated group of individuals. Those in technology leadership positions would do well to remember that, and should spend a majority of their time focusing on people, according to Gary B. Smith, president and CEO of optical networking giant Ciena.
In a recent article written for Telecom Times, Smith posits that bringing together the right blend of skills, diversity, dynamics and team behaviors should be an ongoing priority for anyone in a leadership position. Most importantly, a strong leader will evaluate relationships among people, which can be highly complex and rewarding. This helps to establish the direction of the team and business as well as guide in the allocation of resources.
“I believe there to be no magic formulas, playbooks or shortcuts to successful leadership,” writes Smith. “However, as I’ve traversed along that journey in my more than 35 years as a global technology executive I’ve gleaned some significant insights and truths that I would call guiding principles to becoming a strong people-first leader.”
One of those insights is that authenticity is extremely important. A good leader will be candid and self aware as well as able to genuinely share beliefs with others. They will demonstrate this by setting a good example for their team that is a true reflection of their beliefs and guiding principles. Attitude is another important variable for good leadership, and character and emotional intelligence are attributes that are just as important as aptitude and ability.
The art of listening is undervalued in business and leadership and Smith believes that a great leader will listen more than talk. Listening enables an emotional connection and real engagement with team members, critical for strengthening any group and creating a meaningful rapport. Smith says a communication ratio of about 80 percent listening and 20 percent talking is ideal for leaders.
Perhaps most importantly, being a good leader means creating an open environment where sharing, trust and respect are the key principles. This will ultimately facilitate good team relationships and foster creativity, sharing and respect throughout an organization.
Edited by Alicia Young