Leadership The First Pillar of Organizational Readiness

What does it mean to be a leader? Why is it important for organizational leaders to be not just IT aware, but IT savvy when it comes to application of the overall business strategy? Historically, the most successful organizations have had strong leadership teams who believed in the power of IT. They understand how a movement to Web 2.0 applications, application mash-ups, and web-based processes has created new opportunities for innovation, productivity, and efficiency—all keys to competitive differentiation, as noted in Module 2, "Management Strategies." The decision to extend internal and external processes to the web must be made at the executive level.

Strong leadership sets the company vision, goals, and objectives. A strong team understands and communicates the value of using ICT solutions in a strategic manner. Firms that use ICT solutions strategically are better able to understand what and how to change more quickly to best meet changing market requirements; how to attract and motivate good people; and how to build a strong organizational culture across geographically dispersed facilities. Strong leadership is the backbone of an organization. Without it, the other pillars of organizational readiness, even if executed well, will not be enough to succeed in a rapidly changing, dynamic market.

Strong leadership teams typically exhibit the following characteristics:

■ Actively promote change throughout the organization.

■ Engage and empower the organization to use the Internet as a tool.

■ View information technology as a strategic asset rather than a cost center.

■ Encourage and reward measured risk-taking in the organization.

It is not enough to have strong leadership, no matter how visionary it might be, if the team is technology adverse or even just technology neutral. Technology—specifically Internet-based technology—is the key to being a highly successful company in the twenty-first century. A strong leadership team must embrace technology and understand its unique role as a competitive differentiator against existing as well as emerging competitors. A strong leadership team that is also IT savvy is the one-two punch that drives a firm to great success.

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