by David Rosenbaum

Your Success Is in the Hands of Your Staff

May 01, 20072 mins

If you want to lead people, let them go.

“Motorola CIO Patty Morrison sleeps well at night. She takes real vacations. She has time to think.”

That’s how Senior Editor Stephanie Overby begins her article How to Turn Your Employees into Leaders, in our third annual Ones to Watch awards issue.

Imagine: Vacations. Time to sleep. Time to think. In our 2007 State of the CIO report, the lack of time for strategic planning and thinking was rated by CIOs as the number-one barrier to job effectiveness. So how does Morrison, CIO of a $42 billion company in a hypercompetitive market, do it? Is it Zen? A secret, proprietary time-management tool?

No. It’s something every CIO already has. It’s called a staff. The difference between you sleep-deprived CIOs and Morrison may be that she trusts and empowers hers—not always such an easy thing to do.

When I was a sprout of 36, I became editor of a large, successful city magazine. I burned to succeed and because I believed that I could do most everything better than anyone else, I tried to do everything, thereby turning a staff of talented people into a bunch of disaffected layabouts. Not given responsibility, they didn’t take any. I thought they were the problem. They weren’t. I was.

In our Ones to Watch issue, ably honchoed by Senior Editor Steff Gelston, you’ll find lots of tips on how to create leaders within your organization, but the most important leader to work on is you. If you want your people to embrace the mission, you have to let them own it. Which means you have to let go. And that takes guts.

Leadership is often thought of as a soft skill because, it’s assumed, it doesn’t translate easily into metrics. Nonsense. The metric by which leadership can be measured is right there on the P&L. And everyone in your enterprise can see that at a glance.

Twelve men and women who understood that are in the CIO Hall of Fame. Ten years ago, celebrating CIO’s 10th anniversary, we inducted 12 members. This year, to celebrate our 20th, we’re looking to induct 20 new CIOs and we would love your input. Go to The CIO Hall of Fame to find out who’s already there, and to find the form to nominate someone you believe has had a profound and positive impact on the IT discipline over the past 20 years. Thanks.