Recently, I’ve been reviewing my skills and competencies and considering where I want to go within my own career. This has been conducted as part of a range of exercises as part of my own Continuous Personal Development. As part of this assessment, I’ve been considering where I have gaps in my own skill set and what I need to development. To give you a little bit of background around my own career, I’ve come from a Software Development background, meaning like a lot of other IT professionals, I’ve concentrated on my technical competencies and I’ve not even considered developing my soft skills. In all honesty, I’ve almost considered these types of skills to have a “mystic” quality about them and only being able to develop them through on-the-job training techniques. These exercises have resulted in the realisation of the areas of development I need to focus on and to move away from solely developing my technical skills. Being an analytical, methodical individual, like I suspect a large number of Architects are, I’ve really had my eyes opened to a range of different models, techniques and approaches. To name a few, and I recommend you doing your own research on these subjects and to evaluate their applicability to various different Leadership scenarios, I’ve learnt about:
- Situational Leadership by Paul Hersey
- The Leadership Continuum by Tannenbaum and Schmidt
- Action Centred Leadership by John Adair
- Transformational Leadership by Burns
- The Managerial Grid by Blake Mouton
- Tuckman’s Team Development Model
- The PROEP Influencing Model
These are the tip of the iceberg, and all provide excellent means of conceptualising a range of areas that previously seem difficult to quantify. At some point, I’ll try and adapt these specifically for the Architecture role, to provide some indication of how they would add value to Architects and how they could be utilised. Its clear that there are a wealth of models out there, based on years and years of experience, some older than the IT profession itself.
This leads to the fundamental question… why do the current range of Architecture frameworks largely choose not to provide any guidance on soft skills? These skills are vital to undertaking the role, yet seem to bizarrely overlooked… Why? Competencies such as influencing, building trust, acting with integrity, providing inspiration and motivation. All the essential qualities of a Leader, which are fundamentally what the Architect is meant to provide.
From my own personal perspective, the inconvenient truth is that its easier for IT professionals to hide behind technical details, technologies and jargon as these are aspects that are easier to quantify and crucially control. We believe that it provides us with a level of power. Machines are easier to control, people are difficult to influence.
Here’s another question to consider, if Architects are to deliver on the promises of Enterprise Architecture, to increase our mandate and influence and act as effective Leaders within the business, can we do this without development of Soft Skill? Why aren’t these techniques included within Architecture frameworks? You could say that “it is out of scope” for these frameworks, yet we seem to have very systematic techniques for stakeholder management, there is nothing included within this guidance to deal with “Hidden Sponsors”, “Anti Sponsor” or the “Solutionising Sponsor” (my personal favourite). Why don’t these frameworks adapt or apply these frameworks using the aforementioned models? Similarly, why is culture largely ignored (except for PEAF)?
This leads to a final question: do our Architecture frameworks need to consider providing a Leadership toolkit to provide a guide for the great unexplored Architecture frontier?