Secrets to Building a Deeper Bench

Is your team lacking leadership depth? CIO magazine’s Ones to Watch honorees prove hands-on experience and a personal touch builds a stronger group of IT managers

It’s easy to confuse leadership ability with a checklist of book-learned skills, such as managing projects, organizing staff and evaluating vendors. A good IT leader can do all of that. But true leadership is about influence. A great leader incites others to do what they do best, in harmony, to create a result exponentially better than what any single person could accomplish.

Our Ones to Watch Awards, produced annually by the CIO Executive Council and presented by CIO magazine, recognize the next wave of IT leaders and the CIOs that have encouraged their development. Honorees exhibit the kind of influence and attendant business accomplishments that distinguish them as future CIOs. This year’s class of 25 honorees (See “CIO Magazine's 2011 Ones to Watch Honorees.”) also exemplifies how the CIO’s dedication to cultivating leadership among IT staff pays off in the form of a deep bench of professionals who can guide their companies’ success now and for years to come. True leaders, we find, beget leaders.


See the complete list of honorees and the judges who chose them.

Find out how we chose this year's winners.

Learn how to spot a future leader.


Yet according to a CIO Executive Council survey of 328 IT executives, which was conducted in February, there are troubling differences in outlook between respondents who said they had a shallow IT leadership bench and those who claimed a deep one. Although 52 percent of respondents say bench depth is “somewhat improving,” many companies display an alarming lack of attention to what they know are key aspects of leadership development. Conflict management and political savvy, for example, are traits respondents deem important, yet they are best addressed by just 26 percent and 17 percent of companies, respectively. The sad but unsurprising result: These attributes are only “a little developed” in senior IT leadership, respondents said. (The CIO Executive Council is a global peer advisory service and professional association founded by CIO’s publisher.)

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