How to Launch a Leader

Von Todd Datz

Heege has built an affinity for the business side through several affiliations: project management training at Boston University, a women's leadership council at a previous job and an internal leadership council at ING U.S. (headed by CEO Tom McInerney). Her role on ING's Defined Contributions Market team, which was formed in November 2002, is both her reward for business knowledge and a high-level training ground. "To have respect on the team, you need to know the business, have passion for the business and have the desire for the business to succeed," she says.

Harrah's Entertainment builds business expertise among IT staffers through its Executive Associate program, which pairs potential leaders with senior executives in the company for about 18 months. Executive Associates are given special projects to help them grow as leaders. Sometimes they even vault the IT wall: Tim Stanley, CIO of Harrah's Entertainment, notes that one IT staffer worked for the COO, then was promoted to vice president of strategic sourcing.

For hospitality companies like Royal Caribbean, it all comes down to taking care of people. So CIO Tom Murphy has come up with an innovative way of targeting future IT leaders - he sees which folks shine brightest in the company's community service initiatives. The company's annual Give Day event requires some people to coordinate projects with a number of nonprofit organizations. "It's the single largest one-company community service event in Florida," Murphy proudly notes. "We observe who shows an aptitude for leadership on those projects. Those people tend to get a little bit more opportunities. They're actively engaged in the culture of the organization, taking on additional responsibilities. Passion is an important part of effective leadership," he adds.

Are you passionate about developing leaders? If not, now's a good time to get on board. Maintaining the status quo will guarantee you and your crew sure passage to mediocrity.

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