Spotlight on Leaders

FRAMINGHAM (05/08/2000) - Leadership can be an elusive quality to pin down. But we know it when we see it, don't we? It can be a single shining moment of victory over adversity. Perhaps it's an opportunity neatly seized, or a teachable moment well used. However it manifests itself, the single common thread is always the human one. Companies don't lead. Technologies don't triumph. People do.

In years past, Computerworld's Premier 100 honored companies as leading users of technology, generally focusing on big, well-known corporations with gargantuan IT budgets. For the new century, we decided to make it personal.

We set out to define and identify IT leaders, to learn how they do what they do, and to figure out what makes them tick. We looked for people who are creatively managing their IT organizations, mentoring and motivating their staffs, envisioning innovative ideas and solving business challenges. They turned up everywhere, at some of the best-known companies in the world and at some of the more obscure dot-coms.

The project also led us to launch our first-ever Premier 100 IT Leaders Conference, to be held June 19-21 in Palm Desert, California. The cornerstones of the event are a series of town-hall-style panels featuring more than two dozen of the "Premiers," discussing topics such as enterprise security, B-to-B e-commerce, ASPs, e-customer service and hiring tactics.

In our research, we developed a detailed profile of IT leader characteristics.

We found that many of them make decisions in a consensus style by soliciting input from direct reports. Yet the majority (77 percent) manage people in a "hands-off" fashion, delegating tasks and asking for occasional updates. They encourage debate and a lively - even contentious - exchange of ideas. The majority (73 percent) work for companies that were profitable last year, and their average IT budgets were $229 million.

We are honored to introduce you to this crop of Premier 100 IT Leaders, and we welcome your help in nominating the next 100. Take a moment to look around your company. You'll know them when you see them.

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