A 40-year IT veteran shares his framework for grooming high-potential directors for executive-level success.

Larry Tieman, Contributor

April 27, 2011

2 Min Read

Organizations can have long memories--too long--and a misstep in managing up can have permanent career implications. I worked for years with a brilliant director who seemingly could do anything except be politically smart. He also had earned a reputation as being rude and intolerant of those not as technically astute as he was. He made great improvements, but with this kind of reputation associates read into his words and body language the very impression that he was trying to change. And the occasional minor misstep would wipe away all the progress.

I have personally mismanaged executives with bad timing. At one meeting with the CMO and CIO, marketing was giving an enthusiastic presentation on a new technology I had convinced them to use. During the presentation, I interjected the amount of work it would take to do what was being proposed. It was a completely accurate assessment that was completely mistimed, and it took all the enthusiasm out of the room. I doubt the CMO or CIO remembers the incident, but I'm sure it permanently affected their impression of me.

Over the last 10 years, I have added contract management as a core competency. More and more work is done via contracts with outsource developers, software and hardware vendors, consultants, and other third-party IT service providers. Sadly, this is probably the least developed IT leadership skill and one that can cost a company significantly. With all the pressures to execute day-to-day IT tasks, it's too convenient to make believe that third parties are providing the contracted services effectively and efficiently and don't require close management.

Over my 20-plus years as a senior IT officer, I have worked with a few hundred high-potential individuals. All came to me with undeveloped skills in one competency or another. A few didn't live up to the expected potential. But almost all of them have learned a great deal under this framework and now have a full set of executive IT leadership skills.

Dr. Larry Tieman has been a senior VP at FedEx, a CIO, or a CTO for the last 20 years. He has worked with some of the great CIOs, including Max Hopper, Charlie Feld, and Rob Carter. He can be reached at [email protected].

About the Author(s)

Larry Tieman

Contributor

Dr. Larry Tieman has been a senior VP at FedEx, a CIO, or a CTO for the last 20 years. He has worked with some of the great CIOs, including Max Hopper, Charlie Feld, and Rob Carter. He can be reached at [email protected].

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