How to Launch a Leader

Von Todd Datz

Ultimately, one of the most important goals in leadership development has to be growing and nurturing people skills, the human qualities necessary to lead. That's an aspect often overlooked. Often, people's leadership qualities are judged strictly on how good they are at getting results - achieving the goals of their business units, for example. But believing that making your numbers makes you a good leader is like saying that playing a mean clarinet turns you into great bandleader. Great leaders possess the whole package; they get results and know how to motivate and get the best from people.

Leadership author Terry Pearce says that execs who want to be more effective leaders should observe four principles: understanding what your values are, creating the courage to speak about your values, developing the necessary emotional intelligence to lead and learning how to connect with people at the limbic level (that is, through emotion and motivation). Pearce, who wrote Leading Out Loud and founded the consultancy Leadership Communication, recommends that his clients get 360-degree feedback on their leadership performance from their bosses, peers and the people they manage.

The results can be surprising. One exec he worked with at Charles Schwab several years ago, Pearce says, "was the most dynamic, smartest person I'd ever met, but he intimidated the hell out of people." When the exec's direct reports gave him performance assessments, the feedback was exactly what Pearce expected: He was competent, but people hated to be around him. The exec couldn't change his behavior, however, and ended up leaving Schwab.

Taking Care of Business

As befits someone who's absorbed a great deal of management know-how while ascending the IT ranks, ING's Heege can rattle off a list of competencies necessary for leadership. "It's about being able to create a vision, build a high-performing team, make sure the right talent is in the right position, execute, challenge the status quo to ensure we're creating fresh thinking and relationship management skills - building relationships with our business partners," she says.

Business relationship management, as Heege calls it, is a critical component of the well-rounded IT leader. "The way to build strong relationships is to really know the business, talk the business language, and, as the technology needs are expressed [by the business], you come back and deliver solutions," she says. But to deliver solutions, she emphasizes that potential IT leaders had better know technology well enough to be able to show the business how it can meet its needs in different ways, thereby increasing business value.

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