Thursday, August 07, 2008

Are you creating IT leaders

I get asked the question many times by different people, what has been your contribution to your company or the IT industry at large ! Earlier the focus was on answering the question based on the projects executed by self or the team, then it shifted to measurable value to the business and the wonderful "IT-Business Alignment". Somewhere down the line when that came with ease and almost became routine (with some notable exceptions), I began to think about how have I and how can I contributed to the IT industry.

Thinking through my journey over the last 25 odd years, I am able to create 2 distinctive stages. The first was when I was learning and following instructions of other business and IT leaders. While I did contribute to the discussion and influence the direction, my contributions were in the realm of project management, technical disciplines, and execution.

The second stage in which I continue today and been in this role for the last decade or so is when I was driving the direction, creating influence across the IT organization and business adoption of IT. But that was only part of the role I played. The realization that teams can be effective irrespective of the mix of people and skills, with some mentoring and coaching, there was a subtle shift towards encouraging people to start working independently.

Over the years, this nurturing became a habit and the bright team mates started blossoming on their own. All they needed was the impetus and encouragement that they have the potential which can be tapped into to develop into leaders in their own right. A few took on the opportunity and a few viewed it as a challenge; most of them however dived in with some conviction created out of their self-esteem stoked with a mix of mentoring and some pushing.

The result after a decade is that almost a dozen have achieved success and become CIOs in their own right contributing well to their organizations. For most of these talented individuals, some of the influence of thought stayed. They have become business IT champions and not technology professionals attempting to get budgets sanctioned for every small project.

What have you as a CIO been doing ? Are you creating followers or leaders ? Do you acknowledge talent by providing them the platform to grow or like some hire people who will not threaten your existence or position. I do know of a few such individuals (not necessarily CIOs only, but even CEOs and other CXOs) who will by design hire mediocre staff so that they can be at their beck and call, and not challenge them.

It's an elongated period (rather than a moment) of pride to see them grow and take on leadership positions; some of them humble me by mentioning that I played some role in their ascent. I wonder where do I go from here ?

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous6:24 PM

    Leave alone creating IT leaders, I have not seen enough CXO's focusing on creating a succession plan.
    I remember being hired as Program Manager for one of large capital infrastructure project. While concluding the interview, I asked the Program Director on what is that thing from my end that he is looking at as a primary responsibility, and the response was "Succession Plan for him". The project had just started and he was already preparing a hier. 2.5 years later, he moved over at regional level for all Cap Infra Projects and I took over the reins.