Here’s a hard truth: Many organizations are now facing significant leadership gaps, particularly in critical core skills, and it’s going to prevent them from being able to transform and succeed in the digital economy.
Consider the current state of IT leadership development. According to a recent Zenger Folkman study, the average age of an individual promoted to supervisor is 27 years old — but the average age of an individual in a company leadership development program is 46 years old. That's an average of 19 years that a supervisor is leading without formal training. Another study, by the Center for Creative Leadership, pointed out that the largest group of leaders today are “accidental leaders,” with 60% of frontline leaders saying they have never received any training for their new role.
In this digital age of constant disruption — and with the shelf-life of skills rapidly shortening — we are waiting too long to develop IT leaders who have the anticipatory mindset and collaborative skills to drive innovation and lead their organizations in a dramatically changing world.
C-suite executives are acutely aware of this growing leadership deficit. Just look at any survey of CEOs from the past few years and you’ll see it consistently at the top of their list of concerns. But the problem is, as organizations scramble to develop their bench and fill the void, too many are relying on an outdated leadership playbook.
Everything has changed in business, and the way we approach leadership development needs to change along with it.
What we can learn from the organizations that are leading the pack in this area?
Recently, five of the top CIOs in their respective industries joined me on two leadership panels where we unpacked their leadership philosophies, insights, and stories, along with their words of advice and encouragement for the next generation. This prestigious group of executives included:
The audiences were comprised of a total of 50 graduates of The Technology Leadership Experience (The TechLX), recognized by CIO.com as a Top 10 IT Leadership Development Program. These cohorts of up-and-coming IT leaders spent the past year on a learning journey that included leadership assessments, workshops, one-on-one mentoring with a CIO, networking and problem solving with their peers, and more.
The panels gave them the opportunity to learn directly from some of the best in the business about their successes, their failures, and what it takes to be a future-ready IT leader. Some of the nuggets they picked up will be immediately applicable, while others will become gold down the road. It’s all part of the process of becoming the kind of transformational IT executives that today’s CEOs are relying on to help drive the business forward.
In my latest CIO Whisperers column, I’ve captured some of the common themes addressed by the CIO panelists, including what they're looking for in the next generation of IT leaders, how they’re targeting their leadership development efforts, and why they’re turning to programs like The TechLX to build more robust pipelines of future-ready leaders.
Leadership is a force multiplier.
Every time someone takes their leadership game to the next level, they win, their team wins, their company wins, and their families and communities all win. We’re doing a disservice at so many levels when we fail to adequately address this massive leadership void.
Back to those hard truths: The longer organizations wait to develop their pipelines of future-ready leaders, the more difficult it will be to transform and compete successfully in a digital economy. As the CIOs told our TechLX graduates, what got you here won’t get you there.
What are you doing to elevate leadership in your organization?
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