How to Launch a Leader

Von Todd Datz
Kompetenz in technischen Fragen zeichnet die Anwärter auf den CIO-Posten aus. Doch als Führungspersonen müssen sie auch motivieren oder Bilanzen lesen können. Entsprechende Fortbildungen sorgen für Nachwuchs aus den eigenen Reihen.

AT ING U.S. Financial Services, Irene Heege serves side by side with four business leaders on a team that guides one of the company's five major business lines. Heege represents IT in this group, but she's not, as you might expect, the CIO. She is head of worksite application services - a techie. Heege has the credibility, the skills and the authority to help make million-dollar decisions because of heron-the-job experience and ING's emphasis on leadership development.

An example of that leadership development focus is ING's Talent Review Initiative. Participants - generally the top 2 percent of the IT staff in skill levels and accomplishment - receive extra training, both onsite and offsite, and become candidates for ING's business school program in Amsterdam, the Netherlands (the home of parent company ING-Group). There, employees might take courses in banking, insurance and leadership, get coached in management skills and be assigned mentors. The program is meant to serve ultimately as a stepping-stone to senior management.

Intensive leadership training like this is the exception rather than the rule among corporate IT departments. Identifying candidates, creating leadership programs and administering them was a daunting challenge during the hectic days of rapid growth, and still is in today's overworked and undermanned environment. But companies as diverse as ING, trucking giant Schneider National and IT services company Unisys recognize that growing and molding future IT executives is critical to the long-term success of their organizations.

These companies teach their IT staffs communication skills, help them understand the business and instill a culture grounded in values. They identify high-potential people early in their careers and put them on separate development tracks, making sure they build leadership and people management skills through training, coaching, mentoring and working with business peers (skills far different from those they'll acquire in the latest SQL Server or XML-coding course). And most important, their CIOs have made a commitment to developing and nurturing their successors.

ING's Talent Review Initiative was created to fill a gap, says CIO and Executive Vice President Paul Donovan - one that he believes is still prevalent in the world of IT. "Identifying the high-potential people and those that will make great managers and leaders is not something IT has done a good job at," he says. "People are picked without a lot of training to fill a void. You give them a shot; what you haven't done is prepared them for this new role. They've gone from writing a program or fixing a problem [to managing people], and it's a very different role."

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