For the second consecutive time, FORTUNE magazine has named IBM as the #1 Global Company for Leaders. As part of our series on IBM Leadership, Country General Manager for East Africa Tony Mwai comments on IBM’s new model for identifying and developing global leaders.
IBM understands the complexities of identifying and supporting employees with global leadership potential. To compete on the global stage, today’s leaders need adaptable expertise. Developing this expertise requires more than a simple “tour of duty” in an unfamiliar locale, and it goes beyond merely being mindful of local differences. The development of global leadership skills results from immersion in multiple markets and cultures, and the experience of collaborating with colleagues and partners across an even broader spectrum of opportunity.
At IBM, we always have relied on a distributed leadership model to enable decision-making authority among those best positioned to make knowledgeable, real-time contributions to the business. Monumental shifts in where revenue is generated have inspired us to expand and reinforce that commitment, and to recognize that successful global leaders must be able to appreciate and truly embrace diversity. To make this happen, we now offer greater opportunity for more employees to develop their skills, participate in global leadership experiences, and learn how to work across our enterprise more effectively.
Our Corporate Service Corps program – IBM’s version of the Peace Corps – broadens participants’ thinking and improves their understanding of different cultures and today’s global context of business operations. Corporate Service Corps helps transform our emerging leaders into global citizens through specially designed short-term projects in key growth markets.
I am especially excited about the work Corporate Service Corps has done in Africa, where we are building out our technology infrastructure, and civic and social institutions to keep pace with our growing middle class. Here in Kenya, IBM employees have provided advice to improve our country’s ability to develop and retain top technology talent; modernize the national postal service; and establish a framework for e-government services for citizens, including electronic voting. Our initiatives in Ghana, Nigeria, and Tanzania are dedicated to effecting similarly positive changes in the lives of ordinary people.
Thus far, nearly 1,500 IBMers from more than 50 countries have worked on projects in Brazil, Cambodia, Chile, China, Indonesia, the Philippines, Russia, Sri Lanka, Vietnam, and in more than a dozen additional countries. And each engagement has provided a triple benefit:
- Communities have their problems solved;
- Our employees receive leadership training and development; and
- Our company develops a new generation of global leaders.
When it comes to developing and retaining global talent, it is particularly rewarding to know that 90 percent of Corporate Service Corps participants agree that the experience has helped make them more effective leaders, and 100 percent say the experience has made it more likely that they will complete their careers at IBM. Recognizing top talent and giving them opportunities to enhance their skills as global leaders is an essential part of how we collaborate across the enterprise to strengthen an organizational culture based on shared values.
BOTTOM LINE: Immersion in markets and collaboration are the keys to developing global leaders. #ibmleaders
Read more about IBM Leadership:
Why IBM Is the Best Company for Leaders by Randy MacDonald, Senior Vice President, Human Resources
A Global View of Leadership Development by Stanley S. Litow, Vice President of Corporate Citizenship & Corporate Responsibility and President, IBM International Foundation
How Private-Public Partnerships Can Lead Through Innovation by Rod Adkins, Senior Vice President, Systems & Technology Group
Entrepreneurship Takes Homework, Not Hubris, by Sharon Nunes, Vice President, Government Industry Strategy & Solutions
Leadership Must Evolve in an Interconnected World by Bridget van Kralingen, General Manager, North America