by CIO Staff

Ones To Watch

Jul 15, 20053 mins
IT Leadership

Of all the leadership tasks that CIOs face, one of the most important is developing future IT leaders. It’s one of the many duties that CIOs perform as part of their role in running IT, a means of ensuring the long-term success of the enterprise and an important aspect of managerial responsibility toward employees. In today’s demanding environment, CIOs can’t possibly do it all themselves. But when talented people leave, the bench has to be stocked with others ready to step up.

In fact, developing the next generation of IT leaders is one of the five must-dos in our Leadership Agenda 2005 program. To put together this special report, CIO’s editors drew on research with hundreds of IT executives and other business leaders and experts to identify the top strategic imperatives for success as a CIO today. (Visit to learn more.)

Leadership development isn’t formulaic; what works for one CIO can fall flat in the hands of another, or within a different corporate culture. In “How Stars Are Made”, we detail current trends in leadership development, such as executive coaching and “action learning programs,” and report on the experiences of a few IT executives with leadership development programs in place. At Sun Microsystems, for instance, CIO Bill Vass puts all of his up-and-comers through three assignments: an operations role, in which they learn the importance of excellent IT performance and develop a service mentality; a business systems development role, in which they get to know the business users and their needs; and finally, an IT process and architecture role, in which the future leaders apply what they’ve learned from the other two roles to the maintenance and extension of a stable, useful IT architecture.

In appreciation of CIOs who do leadership development right, we created a new awards program this year—Ones to Watch. This award identifies the rising stars in IT, senior staff who have what it takes to become the CIOs of the future.

The selection criteria for the Ones to Watch awards were rigorous. First, each candidate had to be nominated or sponsored by a CIO. A 13-member panel of working CIOs (see “The Judges”), recruited from among our readers and the CIO Executive Council, reviewed and rated the applications. Each nominee was evaluated by two CIOs, who scored them on several different criteria. Honorees had to demonstrate expertise in a wide range of areas, including having held several jobs within IT as well as positions in functional areas outside of IT. They needed to have a long list of on-the-job accomplishments in their backgrounds, such as leading a large project or conceiving a new business product. They needed to be risk takers, team builders, mentors and change agents. After a final due-diligence review by CIO’s editors, 33 honorees rose to the top “33 Rising Stars”.

We then stepped back for a look at what our honorees had in common. We found three overarching characteristics:

  • Vision—an ability to see solutions in often chaotic situations.
  • Influence—the capability to engage business users and other stakeholders in IT programs in a way that doesn’t depend on the power of their position.
  • Execution—the bottom-line ability to deliver, time and again.

Each of our honorees demonstrated all of these traits. In doing so (see “What Leadership Looks Like”), they benefited their companies, made their CIOs look good and served as testaments to the importance of leadership development.