What Is Leadership?

As with so many things in life, it depends who you ask

Ask a group of people what the defining characteristic of a good leader is and you'll get a lot of different answers. I recently posed that question in Twitter, asking people to complete the sentence "Good leaders always..." Here's what I got back.

Good leaders always...

  • listen (three people said this)
  • treat people with respect (two mentions)
  • communicate clearly
  • are considerate of others
  • solicit competing views, take time to think and then make a firm decision
  • set the direction, then step back to support and enable the people who have to go there, letting them determine how to accomplish the vision
  • incorporate anthropology; i.e., engage understanding, context and motivations of constituents (peer, adversary, competitor, boss, customer, etc.)
  • inspire others
  • have good followers

I love this list! Particularly the last point, because if you don't start with the right people on the bus (as Jim Collins likes to say), you won't get very far.

That's why, for the fourth year in a row, we've produced a special report on leadership development. This year's package begins with a probing look at the future of IT leadership, and the picture is not all that bright. As the first full-career generation of CIOs begins to retire and others increasingly take on broader responsibilities or move out of technology altogether, many CIOs don't know who will lead IT in the years ahead, writes Michael Fitzgerald in "Finding Tomorrow's Leaders Today." To help you leave a different legacy, we've included features on both mentoring and succession planning, with lots of great lessons learned from your peers. We conclude with the list of this year's Ones to Watch honorees: men and women who have been double-vetted by accomplished CIOs—endorsed by their bosses and then evaluated by members of the CIO Executive Council.

And I guess we picked some good ones. In the months since we did the judging, at least three have received promotions. Congratulations to Tomas Gregorio, now VP and CIO at Newark Beth Israel Medical Center; Jackie Magno, SVP and CIO at SAP Business Objects; and Ed Earl, CIO at Littelfuse.

If you haven't checked out Twitter yet, please do! Four of the responses above came from IT execs. You can follow us at twitter.com/CIOMagazine.

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