Marc Dowd
Marc Dowd (Principal, European Client Advisory)

We are often told there are big differences between Leadership and Management. This is undoubtedly true, and both skill sets are needed to run an organisation – leading through a mission, example and inspiration as well as organisational and people skills to get the right sills in the right places. However, sometimes those in charge forget this and seem to make a decision to “manage” people through FUD (fear, uncertainty and doubt). I am lucky that the vast majority of leaders I deal with daily are not like that, but I certainly see the fallout of poor management at all levels and all industries.

That said the opposite of “Bad” is not necessarily “Great”. “Good” management and even leadership practices may not be good enough for the future. Michał Paprocki wrote in a wide ranging and inciteful article of the “somehow mechanical treatment of people” where “people are truly fungible human resources”. I love the word fungible but in this case, it does make people sound like as important as a fungus. As leaders we have to be aware of all the personal differences in the people we lead and adapt our interactions to suit.

Of course, people are important. As we come out of the industrial age where mass production techniques and mindset infused our thinking despite ourselves, we are coming to recognize that employees are not identical parts of a machine to be swapped in or out interchangeably. I am lucky that I was brought up by hippies, and as such did not go to any sort of conventional school until I was in my late teens. When I did go, I went to a minor English public school and my time there made me realise that fact that leaders of industry were putting their children through hell. I did not understand until it was explained to me years later by a Spanish historian that the model of the school was to produce “Leaders fit for the Empire”. We got to practice social survival skills that stood some in good stead when they ended up in prison in later life. The key elements were based around subjugation of individuality for the benefit of the “house” and incredible levels of institutional bullying which was passed from generation to generation.

Thankfully that place is now closed and even the leaders it created are hanging up their suits.

The next generation do not have to make the same mistakes as their predecessors. The world has changed in many ways, yet we still see a disturbing lack of diversity in IT along with the commensurate and predictable talent shortage. Indeed, I spend most of my time working with people, not machines.

As a Digital Leader you spend most of your time with people as well. Sure, you need to understand how technological things work and how they fit together but your role is to lead people. This can be people who work for you or people you work for. Is it part of your Leadership to improve your team’s performance?  I would argue that is a key activity of any leader?

So, have you re-evaluated the way you lead recently? Have you looked at what you can do to improve your team’s performance?

As one of our IDC Digital Leadership Community members, Albert, said to me today “this is probably THE main topic for managers like me”. He was referring to the topic of the next DLC peer meeting on the 5th of August: ”Improving your team’s performance – how to develop high performing teams and what to focus on”. We are going to focus on a key element of leadership – developing your team.

Because we are a community-based group we are going to hear from, and discuss with two of the members of the Community. I am privileged enough to have known them both for years and have seen them lead incredibly well. In this session they will have 15-20 minutes each to outline what they have learned and practices they use. They are:


Matthew Graham-Hyde 

International Corporate CIO and Technology Strategy Director for twenty years at FSTE 100 multinationals. Author of award-winning book ‘The Essential CIO’. Matt has experienced the issue’s faced dealing with frequent business and life changes, leadership behaviour change, personal career development, and cultural awareness working overseas. He is a now a Certified and Accredited Executive coach. 

James Maunder 

James is currently Chief Information Officer at The London Clinic, a leading private charitable hospital in London. Prior to this he was Director of Information Technology at Oxford University Press and, previously, the Institute of Directors. Before embarking on his business career 25 short years ago James was a geologist and is an expert in ancient Australian climate.

Freddie Quek

Freddie is CTO at Times Higher Education. He has worked for Reed Elsevier (FTSE 100), Wiley (Fortune 500) and Solera (S&P400) as well as various start-ups. He took on an additional dimension to his role to “deal with the unexpected” to execute strategic yet unplanned initiatives to handle merger integrations, partnerships and competitive threats. His team received the IT Project Team of the Year award at the UK IT Industry Awards.


I am really looking forward to the session because I am a great believer in learning from others. I guess that is not too surprising, as I learn every day from the 1000+ Analysts at IDC and my great joy is passing on their insight to my clients as the need arises.

As an advisor to leaders for many years it may seem obvious that I think that a large part of leading is serving the people you lead. I am certainly looking forward to bringing that into the discussion of tips and techniques discussed in the meeting.

If you are a Business Leader and would like to take part in this meeting you can do so for free. You can either contact us directly or join our LinkedIn group of likeminded peers who get together every two weeks to discuss topics of interest and hear from each other as well as IDC Analysts and Advisors.

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