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Which do you suppose is a more successful model for effectively driving change?

(a)The CIO as the sole visionary doing his/her best to evangelize the vision of how things could be

(b)The CIO as a builder of leaders—each of whom then carry “the word” on how life could be to the four corners of the company

Of course, based on the title of this piece, it’s fairly easy to see on which side of the question I land. But, in all seriousness, the CIO who trains and empowers his/her staff—to be the kind of visionary leaders that exemplify the best qualities of the CIO—will ultimately realize greater success not only in terms of staff productivity, but in the productivity of the business units with which the staff members work to effectively apply technology to meet business needs.

With this in mind—rather than talking about how to employ integration and technology to liberate human resources for more valuable work—I’d like to focus on maximizing the effectiveness of those humans once some portion of their time has been liberated—courtesy of technology. Furthermore, rather than focusing on what sorts of tasks we might have those people perform to maximize their worth, I’d like to highlight a few strategies for turning people into leaders…leaders who constantly seek to deliver their optimal worth to the company.


Of course, any discussion on creating leaders begs the definition of the term “leader”. John Porter said that “A leader’s job is to help people have vision of their potential.” Warren Bennis insisted that a leader must have “the capacity to translate vision into reality.” Walter Lippmann observed that “The final test of a leader is that he leaves behind him—in other men—the conviction and the will to carry on.” While the noted management guru, Peter Drucker, maintains that the leader is responsible for “lifting a person's vision to higher sights, the raising of a person's performance to a higher standard, the building of a personality beyond its normal limitations.”

There is, of course, no shortage of ideas about what a leader is. However, I think it’s safe to say that few would argue with the statement that a leader is, at least, someone who can internalize a vision, convey a clear understanding of that vision, and inspire others to be leaders in support of that vision. A leader is also one who motivates others to be leaders with visions of their own. Contrary to the image of the lone leader with a band of dutiful followers at his or her heels, I believe strongly that one of the most important responsibilities of any leader is to create leaders in everyone he or she touches. According to David Gergen, “A leader's role is to raise people's aspirations for what they can become and to release their energies so they will try to get there.” Or as Ralph Nader put it, “The function of leadership is to produce more leaders, not more followers.”


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