Leadership development

IBM believes that leadership is for everyone, and so we are continuously transforming programs to meet changing business needs, skillset requirements and leadership philosophies.

We focus on creating signature experiences for team members, who in turn create signature experiences for clients, which speaks to IBMers' aspirations to have a purpose and be essential every day.

In 2014 IBM launched new programs and enhanced existing ones to support our leadership development goals. Below are some examples.

Faculty Academy

IBM launched the Faculty Academy to advance the culture and practice of leader-led employee development. The academy’s mission is to identify, prepare and support distinguished leaders worldwide to act as faculty, delivering development programs for new executives, managers and sellers. The faculty is made up of non-executive and executive IBM leaders, including senior executives, who also have the opportunity to serve as Faculty Academy program sponsors. These sponsors offer input on the selection and appointment of faculty leaders and mentorship efforts, and are responsible for the oversight of program effectiveness.

To date, 630 IBM leaders from 44 countries have served as faculty, sharing their personal business experience, stimulating informed discussion, and giving invaluable feedback to more than 5,000 IBMers enrolled in the development offerings. Faculty consistently describe the academy experience as transformative for their own management and communication style. They also give the program high marks for the opportunity to interact with a wide cross-section of IBMers.

IBM Manager Journey

The role of the manager is constantly evolving at IBM. And so in 2014 we began placing new focus on the manager journey with programs designed to help our managers be better equipped and more celebrated than ever.

The Manager Journey program is designed to energize all levels of leadership with formal, transition-focused programs for different manager roles, complemented by continuous, informal learning programs. The goal of each program is to provide learners with a signature experience in a face-to-face or virtual classroom setting.

Enabling new first-line managers right out of the gate is an important design point in the creation of the Manager Journey, as they play a critical role in ensuring that employees understand the purpose of their jobs. Within 30 days of their appointment, first-line managers are invited to Management Development (MD) 101, a virtual, self-paced learning experience consisting of eight 20-minute modules on important topics including compensation, diversity and inclusion, recruiting, and performance management. MD 101 incorporates video-rich content, guidebooks and personalized spaces to record notes and ideas. There is also a two-hour module with an experienced human resources partner and a management development facilitator to give managers an opportunity to engage with each other and learn how to handle complex scenarios they may face.

MD 102 brings to life the role of the first-line manager with a face-to-face learning experience designed to cover the course of a year in three days. This is for managers who have been in the role for at least six months. The program focuses on what it means to be an essential first-line manager, from exploring the IBM strategy to practicing how to create signature moments of impact — such as a great first day for a new hire — or how to help employees seize a challenge.

Rounding out the first-line manager learning program suite, MD 103 targets experienced first-line managers, or managers who have been in the role for more than 18 months. MD 103 is a virtual experience that includes a two-hour virtual learning element with an experienced manager and a management development facilitator. Learners conduct a 360-degree feedback survey to gather input from people they lead, people they work with, and their managers, as well as themselves. The learner then receives the 360-degree feedback from a dynamic website that describes input from various survey participants and how it differs from their own assessments. The learner can then create a learning plan based on recommended actions and programs to help them in their development journey.

Up-line managers play a crucial role and have a fantastic opportunity to rally first-line managers to lead in new ways. Ensuring first-line managers are as engaged as possible while managing direct reports and juggling work responsibilities and deadlines can be challenging. Here is where IBM up-line managers play the role of change agents — MD 201 aims to transform them to be the best change agents they can be.

This signature program takes new up-line managers through a two-day, face-to-face interactive and practical learning experience that brings the IBM strategy to life. Up-line managers learn how to embody the nine IBM Practices, “show up” for IBMers and clients each day and continuously invigorate an innovative and essential culture that is IBM. They walk away from MD 201 with clear action plans that incorporate how they can work more effectively through IBM's enterprise social network, IBM Connections.

IBM’s continuous, informal learning programs include Management Development Modules (MDMs) and the MD series. MDMs are turn-key solutions that provide guidance on topics including how to better coach, give and receive feedback, and lead an engaged team. There are also a handful of MDMs focused on training managers in the performance management process. In a similar vein, and even more informal, the MD series includes one-hour virtual learning sessions featuring a subject-matter expert and/or a manager champion (one of the top 50 managers at IBM). Both of these continuous-learning offerings provide guidance to IBMers on how to engage in the cultural transformation through more clearly communicated, iterative and transparent feedback, work and decisions.

Growth and Transformation Team

Our top leaders contribute to the company's growth through several teams that focus on key aspects of our company's success: the Performance Team, the Operations Team, the Client Experience Team, and the overarching Growth and Transformation Team (G&TT). G&TT develops recommendations to solve enterprise challenges and consists of approximately 300 IBM executives appointed by the chairman and her direct reports annually. Members of G&TT transcend their individual roles and work as a team to integrate, grow and transform IBM based on our values.

Every year, a small group of G&TT members are selected to serve on the initiative team. The G&TT initiative team addresses a critical, enterprise-wide business challenge set by the CEO. Team members spend four to five months working on the topic and have an ongoing dialogue with SVP champions, Operating Team executives and the CEO as they develop a set of recommendations.

In 2014 the 11th initiative (the first under the G&TT banner) challenged the team to create an agile IBM. Driven by the need for speed, the team used design thinking and agile practices as the basis for experimentation. G&TT 1 designed experiments, tested them, learned and iterated fast, acting as a “do tank” versus a “think tank.” Through this experience, the team engaged employees to help them in their efforts and impacted change throughout several areas of the organization. They became energized and more empowered leaders, inspiring employees and in turn creating more cycles of experimentation and bold actions.

Their experiments identified opportunities to streamline processes and remove barriers to creativity and innovation. They focused on clarity of purpose and outcomes and enabled a creative environment that allowed for frequent feedback, empowerment and leadership at all levels. With the launch of eight experiments across three geographies, the group started a movement that produced the Agile Toolkit and the IBM Agile Academy.