IBM’s leaders can be found at all levels of the company and are central to our continued transformation. Developing leaders is not just about creating innovative, experiential and practical learning opportunities and resources, but also fostering a partnership with the business to be the trusted advisor, helping to drive behavioral change where needed. It’s about helping leaders influence their peers to drive greater collaboration and self-direction. Ultimately, it’s about modeling what it truly means to be a transformational leader.

IBM Leadership Academy Team, 2016

IBM Leadership Academy Team, 2016

Transformational Leadership Framework

In 2016, we reinforced our commitment to the Transformational Leadership Framework defined the previous year, by making it pervasive in everything we do. Through 360-degree assessments, unique games, customized business unit workshops, program updates and executive initiatives, we’ve worked with market leaders and IBM business leaders within their respective markets to create a common language for our senior leadership to discuss the behaviors needed to be a transformational leader. From the most senior executives to first-line managers, these leaders have become our best champions, boosting and amplifying our messages to shape a healthy culture through the lens of the Transformational Leadership Framework.

Collective leadership

Developed in partnership with market leaders, we co-created a way for leadership teams to drive outcomes that are the result of leaders thinking and acting together in the pursuit of a common goal, rather than any one person providing the answers or solutions. When collective leadership is used, interdependencies and unique strengths are more prominent than market, unit or hierarchical distinctions. By establishing an open, safe environment characterized by trust, mutual respect and empathy, leaders ensure the voices of all team members are consistently heard. Utilizing this mindset, we partnered with the market leaders to facilitate global sessions to work past organizational boundaries, create greater alignment and, ultimately, help bring our IBM teams closer to the clients’ needs.

Manager Champion Group

Launched in 2013, each year the Manager Champion Group identifies the 50 most exemplary IBM managers worldwide. Building on year-over-year momentum, our 2016 cohort had their most successful year to date. Manager Champions from 26 countries co-led virtual, global sessions, reaching over 29,000 IBM managers and enabling them around our new performance management tool, Checkpoint. They also partnered with our Client Experience Team to deliver IBM BOLD, a face-to-face initiative aimed at activating local leadership to develop innovative solutions to complex, cross-boundary challenges. Our Manager Champions advocated for their peers around the world by acting as sponsor users, thought leaders and first adopters to help create transformational initiatives with enterprise-wide impact. These “managers developing managers” not only developed others, they themselves received exposure, networking and executive coaching to continue their growth as transformational leaders.

Corporate citizenship

IBM recognizes that continued social progress requires that we influence leader behaviors not just within IBM, but externally as well. In 2016, we worked with the IBM Corporate Citizenship and Corporate Affairs (CC&CA) team to redesign our Leadership Impact Grants. CC&CA provides these grants to nongovernmental organizations (not-for-profits) at no cost to support development opportunities that would otherwise be unaffordable. We piloted a subset of the grant materials for the International Young Leaders Assembly during their 2016 Global Summit hosted at the United Nations.


  • IBM received two gold Brandon Hall Awards in 2016: Best Unique or Innovative Leadership Development Program, and Best Launch of a Corporate Learning University.
  • IBM was named a 2017 LEAD Award winner for Best Global/International Leadership Program.

Download the 2016 report