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Management Strategies

02:45 PM
Chuck Cornelio, Executive Vice President and Chief Administrative Officer, Lincoln Financial Group
Chuck Cornelio, Executive Vice President and Chief Administrative Officer, Lincoln Financial Group
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Secrets of IT Talent Management: Workforce Risks Worth Taking

Sometimes the less obvious candidates are the right ones when it comes to selecting your IT leadership team, says 2008 Elite 8 honoree Chuck Cornelio, EVP and chief administrative officer, Lincoln Financial Group.

During the many years I've served in leadership roles, I've come to value the critical importance of IT talent management and its direct connection to any company's ability to deliver its mission. These days the team you assemble has to go beyond managing information and delivering technology. Today's IT leaders also must be adept at relationship building, influence management and negotiation to ensure that IT works effectively with its business partners throughout the organization.

Regardless of your current environment, you can improve IT's effectiveness by focusing on the human side of the managerial equation -- your investment in human capital. When filling an IT leadership position, taking a calculated risk on someone who brings a different perspective to your team often pays off when the diversity of thought and experience enriches your results.

Most often we promote people to manager and team leader roles who have been successful individual contributors. We figure, "They've done the work themselves so they know how to manage it, and their people will respect them because of that experience." Sometimes that works out. But other times, the very qualities that make someone an effective solo player don't serve that individual well at the leadership level.

One of the best ways to make sure that your IT organization is closely aligned with the business and well regarded by its partners is to make sure you have some very special talent in your IT leadership ranks. Look at people throughout your company and think about who has high potential. These are the kinds of people you want on your leadership team. Here are three key performance areas to evaluate as part of your thinking:


Successful IT leaders develop relationships that create effective results. Their interpersonal and communication skills pay off in every setting, ranging from one-on-one briefings to large-scale conference calls and committee meetings. They are aware of their own leadership styles and adapt to other styles in the mix to keep the momentum moving forward. Their relationships often are built on trust, respect and understanding, and then sustained by actions that reinforce their commitment to the work.

Influence Management

Because large IT projects usually involve altering behaviors and processes, you want leaders who champion change and have the fortitude to help others through the change -- help that transcends the lines on any organizational chart. Good leaders use their influence to help others stay focused on what's most important. They champion IT and its role as they steward the business initiatives that fuel the company's long-term growth.


Here's where being "appropriately assertive" is the best approach. "Passive" behavior weakens you. An "aggressive" demeanor will only incite push-back. And nobody ever wins with the most challenging combo, "passive aggressive," where you think everything's fine until a fury is unleashed.

You want someone on your team who objectively and thoughtfully navigates each step from early strategy development conversations to project planning sessions and straight through to execution and the "lessons learned" debriefing. You want someone who constantly balances needs and capabilities and does enough scenario planning to be prepared for the changes that will inevitably happen. Being able to regroup and keep the lines of communication open while managing changing expectations also is a valuable trait.

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