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100 Ways to Lead

By Maryfran Johnson
January 5, 2004 12:00 PM ET

Computerworld - Who are these people? Who are these 100 individuals we've singled out for praise and publicity in this special issue? What makes them so unique? That's for you to judge, actually. We devote our first issue of the year to Computerworld's Premier 100 IT Leaders -- and they are an impressive lot, but the real verdict is yours. The stories and profiles that follow are meant to illuminate and inspire, not to brag or boast.
In fact, most of our Premier 100 leaders cringe at being singled out of the IT crowd for a special honor. Yet they each lead in a unique way, shaped by their company cultures, their backgrounds, their experience. They would all tell you they're not doing anything unusual, which is where we have to respectfully disagree.
Our Premier 100 list honors people who have had a positive impact on their IT organizations in myriad ways (see QuickLink 43549 for our evaluation methodology). They don't just manage people well. The Premier 100s mentor and motivate their staffs during the worst of times. They're adept communicators who are "bilingual" in techspeak and business talk. They inspire trust and earn respect. They lead people and projects to success.
But the stories in this issue aren't just about success and triumph, or about projects where everything went as smoothly as an IBM sales pitch. You'll notice that many of them face a catch-22 of sorts, as they try to balance the need to innovate, protect data and customers, and maintain systems -- meanwhile juggling it all with fewer employees and stagnating budgets.
So the Premier 100s won't talk to you about leadership with stars in their eyes. They cast it more practically, in terms of guiding staffs through significant adversity and dealing with the threats posed by security breaches, ruthless competitors and hungry outsourcers. In the midst of all this, they're also trying to protect their teams and nurture creativity and communication. They're motivating in the absence of big bonuses or sexy new projects.
Perhaps most significantly, they're still willing to take risks in these highly risk-averse times. "The risk in everything is finding the right balance," says Samuel F. Averitt, vice provost for IT at North Carolina State University in Raleigh. "But one of the problems is that everything changes."
Indeed it does, especially in IT. That's why we search each year for the Premier 100 IT Leaders. Once again, we've found 100 new ways to lead.
See complete list of honorees.
See the full package of feature articles.

Maryfran Johnson is editor in chief of Computerworld. You can contact her at maryfran_johnson@computerworld.com.

Read more about Management in Computerworld's Management Topic Center.



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