Sustaining IT Leadership in a Context of Change and Uncertainty

Sustaining IT Leadership in a Context of Change and Uncertainty

It was a time of uncertainty for a global financial services provider, but the Chief Technology Officer had to pull his team together, even when their own futures with the company were at risk.

At a glance

Industry: Financial Services

Challenge: In the midst of uncertainty, create and convey new vision for business unit’s future

Objective: Greater growth and profitability

JMW Approach: Develop a high-impact leadership team through customized leadership development programs, consulting

Results: Overcame complex barriers to deliver breakthrough global technology initiatives

The Challenge

The Chief Technology Officer for a worldwide financial services company engaged JMW for support in developing a high-impact leadership team—at a time of great strategic and organizational change and uncertainty for the company.

Initially, the challenge was to help the team set and achieve new levels of performance. Changes in corporate governance left them with full accountability for seamless worldwide delivery of technology, but without full authority over various teams and functions integral to that delivery.

During the time of the engagement, the challenge would become even more complex, in the wake of a strategic decision to transform the corporate structure of the enterprise. As a result, the technology group leaders were striving to influence and improve performance of organizations across the globe at a time when their own roles and futures with the company were at risk.

JMW Approach

JMW designed and conducted a customized leadership program for the Chief Technology Officer and 15 key staff members, consisting of four, three-day sessions over the course of one year, supported by consulting and one-on-one coaching between sessions.  The effort was designed to help the team:

  • Create a compelling vision for technology’s contribution to the business
  • Effectively convey the vision to others
  • Forge improved and mutually committed working relationships within the team
  • Equip team members with specific skills required to succeed with external constituents:
    • Establishing consensus and alignment among parties with diverse interests
    • Generating clear and unambiguous agreement regarding commitments and actions
    • Maintaining productivity in spite of ongoing volatility and uncertainty
    • Collaborating to find new opportunities for the company
  • Develop methods and practices which would enable them to accelerate delivery of very specific short-term outcomes

The Result

Empowered by the compelling vision developed as a team, these IT leaders effectively raised the bar for their own performance and contribution.  Working together, they were able to overcome significant barriers of global governance structures as well as escalating organizational complexity and change.  By remaining focused on the difference they could make, rather than on the impact of these difficulties, they were ultimately successful in delivering a wide variety of key global technology initiatives.

In addition, individual team members targeted “breakthrough” objectives in critical areas where they had accountability but lacked authority.

These areas included meeting new standards for worldwide data security (and responding instantaneously to any conceivable breach) as well as effectively implementing a new system designed to insure interoperability across the globe.

By raising expectations beyond the comfort zone for themselves and others, they were able to instigate  change.  By choosing areas of such importance to the business— initiatives that could not be ignored—they were able to elicit participation and cooperation from groups who might otherwise have remained unresponsive.

The following excerpts from conversations with participants illustrated the impact of the program from their individual points of view:

I was able to take on a sizeable challenge and deliver a result in six months which, in the past, I would have doubted I could deliver in a full year.

 

Even though the program took place during a time of transition, by participating, I was able to make a commitment to that transition, and have it go as smoothly as possible – rather than resist the changes.

 

Using the tools I learned in the program, I dedicated my focus to shorter-term gains and results—things I knew I could make possible, even if I didn’t know what the future would be for me within the company.