Corporate Service Corps

Why IBM Is the Best Company for Leaders

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, Senior Vice President for Human Resources Randy MacDonald offers his perspective on why IBM is the best company for leaders.

This honor comes at a time in history where leadership is shifting in every corner of the world – even at IBM, we have just announced a transition of leadership at the top from Sam Palmisano to Ginni Rometty. This year is also an important milestone in IBM’s history – what other company, let alone a tech company – has been around and committed to leadership development for 100 years? (consider the fact that only one percent of large companies make it to the 40-year mark).

We’ve learned that in order to navigate a volatile global business environment over the long term, it’s important to produce new kinds of leaders who can deal with big projects that help society by reducing traffic, improving public health and fighting energy shortages. Such projects test people’s ability to operate in a large, complicated environment. They need to manage relationships with governments, clients, business partners, universities and others both within and outside the company. They need strong collaboration skills to deal with people from different countries and ways of thinking.

How does IBM train the next generation of leaders? Through a high-touch combination of immersive experiences, mentoring and social media that connects people and empowers future leaders to make important decisions wherever they work. With programs like our Global Enablement Teams and Corporate Service Corps, IBM encourages people to be what I like to call “aggressively innovative,” and to continually push for transformational excellence and impatience with the status quo.

As IBM’s approach to leadership development has changed, so has our definition of leadership. Last year, we introduced a new set of leadership characteristics, or competencies, to define leaders for the 21st century: engaging people from different backgrounds and cultures; thinking systemically and helping others see broader and deeper patterns in businesses opportunities; building mutual trust; and influencing others through expertise. These are a far cry from behaviors that were rewarded in the days of command-and-control leadership.

People often ask me what it takes to be a leader. I think it’s important to have stamina, courage and perseverance. Focus on doing things that are innovative and solve real problems. Have the courage and conviction to express your viewpoint and influence others to agree. In this age of virtual work where the world is growing flatter by the minute, the ability to team and build consensus with people who may see things differently is increasingly important. Every day I ask myself “have I added value and made a difference today?” and I often encourage our leaders to do the same.

Here at IBM, we make building the next generation of leaders a priority. Because that is our past and our future.

BOTTOM LINE: To make it as a leader, have the courage and conviction to express your viewpoint and influence others to agree. #ibmleaders

Read “How to be a leader at IBM” — FORTUNE’s Q&A with Randy MacDonald.

Read more about IBM Leadership:

A Global View of Leadership Development by Stanley S. Litow, Vice President, Corporate Leadership & Corporate Affairs 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

A New Model to Cultivate Global Leaders by Tony Mwai, Country General Manager, East Africa

Leadership Must Evolve in an Interconnected World by Bridget van Kralingen, General Manager, North America

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