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Grow your own CIO with in-house training

Beth Stackpole | Feb. 7, 2011
Last summer, about 30 hand-picked IT managers convened in an executive classroom for the third session of CIO University, a leadership development program for would-be CIOs. The agenda was chock-full of sessions covering best practices for stakeholder management along with role-playing exercises to explore the Thomas-Kilmann model of conflict resolution. Guest speakers included C-level executives as well as former attendees who had gone on to become CIOs. A post-session happy hour and dinner gave participants a chance to network, exchange insights and simply blow off steam.

FRAMINGHAM, 7 FEBRUARY 2011 - Last summer, about 30 hand-picked IT managers convened in an executive classroom for the third session of CIO University, a leadership development program for would-be CIOs. The agenda was chock-full of sessions covering best practices for stakeholder management along with role-playing exercises to explore the Thomas-Kilmann model of conflict resolution. Guest speakers included C-level executives as well as former attendees who had gone on to become CIOs. A post-session happy hour and dinner gave participants a chance to network, exchange insights and simply blow off steam.

It might sound like your typical leadership development seminar, but CIO University stands apart in several ways.

Order the combo: Internal and external training

Is IT leadership development best served by internal training, external resources or a combination of the two?

Executive coach Judy Arteche-Carr votes for the combo. Arteche-Carr is a member of the Society for Information Management's Executive Management Council, and she's managing director of Arteche Global Group, a management consulting company that offers personal coaching for C-level executives.

Arteche-Carr says internal programs take into account the dynamics of a company and foster team-building, but they can be limited in scope and lack outside perspectives. External training, on the other hand, provides exposure to the best practices of other companies and offers networking opportunities, but it's not specifically tailored to an individual's or a company's needs.

"You need a combination of programs, because you never know where people are coming from," she explains. "It's all dependent on the company environment and the CIO's resources."

In any case, it's really the content of the program that's critical to developing high-performing IT leaders. The focus should be on soft skills like "influence management," presentation skills and writing, as well as understanding globalization, says Arteche-Carr.

-- Beth Stackpole

For one thing, the curriculum is fine-tuned to specifically meet the needs of IT management. For another, instead of being sponsored by a university or an IT trade association, with attendance open to IT execs from multiple organizations, this leadership program was homegrown by a single company for its high-performing IT staffers only.

Conceived and implemented by Kevin Hart, CIO at Clearwire Communications LLC in Kirkland, Wash., CIO U aims to serve the following three functions: nurture the next generation of IT leaders at the $274.5 million telecommunications upstart; act as a forum wherein employees can work on real management issues relevant to the company; and foster a culture of teamwork among Hart's 300-person IT staff.

 

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