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IAIDQ Publications

Power, Politics, and Partnership: Strategies for Information Quality Leaders
October 2009
Maureen Clarry

In the July 2009 issue of the Information and Data Quality Newsletter, I described some common dysfunctional “systemic” patterns that occur in organizations.  Information quality organizations are certainly not immune to this phenomenon. 

This article explores the “Top” space and strategies for leaders of information
quality initiatives. 

If you’re a manager, director, vice president, or in some “Top” position relative to your information quality initiative, who is responsible for the success of your team and/or organization?  Most of you will probably respond, “That’s easy, we all are – after all, I can’t do it myself!”  Good answer.  In practice, however, research shows that people in a managerial or leadership role regularly take on too much responsibility for the success of their areas, and this predictable behavior has its consequences.  Those at the top of the “system” -- whether we define the system as being an information quality initiative, a task force, a division, or even the entire organization --  often feel burdened, exhausted, and overwhelmed. What’s worse, their behavior may be limiting the success of their team.

As noted in last quarter’s article, the behavior of “sucking up responsibility” is a common and predictable response to the complexity and responsibility inherent in the “Top” space. To be clear, this behavior isn’t an explicit choice; rather it is almost a reflexive response. While understandable, this type of coping behavior is not the path that will lead to the greatest success. No matter how skilled and experienced you are, your results will be improved if you can tap the creativity and commitment of your entire team.

The strategies described in this article will help you to do just that, but first a note of caution. Ultimately, you can’t empower others; each individual must make the choice between being truly engaged and challenged in their work or being passive and lackadaisical. However, that doesn’t let you, as a leader, off the hook.  It is in your best interest and the interest of the system to create the conditions that enable others to take responsibility.

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