I recently read an interview with GE CEO Jeffrey Immelt, and it was fascinating to get his perspective on what types of leadership skills are essential to succeed in today’s tumultuous business climate. Immelt says that today’s leaders need to be “ambidextrous” in order to survive and thrive. What he means is that they must be able to deliver growth with one hand while controlling costs with the other—all the while sustaining a high level of excellence at both.
Sounds easy, right? As a message to the CIO community, Immelt’s analysis could not be more timely. The CIO’s long-established mission of aligning business and technology goals is just not enough any more. Business is looking for transformation. And for that to occur, it needs the ambidextrous leadership Immelt describes. Without the ability to grow within a financially responsible matrix, business success becomes an ever-receding goal. If CIOs can’t meet this challenge, if they don’t, in fact, take the lead (and as I said, it won’t be easy), then, as I predicted, 2007 could be a year where CIO turnover increases for the first time in about four years.
So, how can CIOs learn to walk this tightrope?
Jim Collins, author of Built to Last and Good to Great, has championed the need for companies to learn from others in order to achieve greatness. Now he’s studying how greatness can be lost (why some fall from great to good) and how companies can sustain greatness even in the face of disruption. Leadership sits at the core of his findings, and he will be sharing his perspectives at the upcoming CIO Leadership Conference, April 29 to May 1. You can find more information about the conference here.
Along with Collins, we’ll be joined by CIOs working to meet the new demands of leadership, such as P&G’s Robert Scott, SanDisk’s Cecelia Claudio, Lockheed Martin’s Joseph Cleveland, H&R Block’s Marc West, Chevron’s Louis Ehrlich and many more. I sincerely hope that you can attend so we can learn from one another and learn how to use both hands to become ambidextrous leaders.
See you there.
Michael Friedenberg, President and CEO