SEARCC: Groom young leaders now to avoid crisis

Leaders need to be developed and recognized now if the industry is to avoid a potential “crisis of leadership”, according to John Price, chairman of the Australian Information Industry Association (AIIA).

“CIOs must recognize that in the future we are going to have fewer people in the workforce and we’re going to need to have very strong leaders,” he said.

Price is speaking at this year’s SEARCC conference about Identifying and Developing Leadership Potential – Key to Organizational Success. He will also be chairing the Management stream’s Leadership Panel.

Addressing leadership on every level from junior management to heads of corporations ties in strongly with the IT skills shortage Australian businesses face today, Price said.

However, the importance of training new leaders is not solely reliant on early identification, but also on their skills in adopting cross-cultural understanding of an IT industry that is relying more on outsourcing and external employment.

“CIOs are consistently dealing with multicultural teams.” he said. “They’re dealing with a potpourri of backgrounds within their organizations,” he said.

Companies must maximize career development and knowledge for employees across all departments, so future leaders will have the ability and background to influence boards and organizations on the value of ICT.

Price said that, where Australia is facing the dilemma of skills shortages in IT, India is facing a challenge in demand for its young IT personnel, with many of them outsourced to Australian companies.

This presents the real challenge for CIOs who must learn to communicate across cultural barriers and to deploy cross-geographical teams effectively.

Rosita Rabindra, NIIT Technologies senior vice president, joined Price on the leadership panel to address the cross-cultural challenges facing leaders. As the global head of HR at NIIT, a company that has more than 400 locations around the world, Rabindra is hoping to leverage her experience with the People Capability Maturity Model (PCMM) her company employs to re-skill and educate employees.

“PCMM integrates recruitment, performance management and training in a simple method that can be used to move forward independently of external evaluations,” she said.

Covering a number of frameworks, such as behavioral competency, technical competency and functional competency, PCMM sets the basic foundation for employees to recognize strengths and weaknesses and to work actively towards goals.

“PCMM makes people’s goals explicit, so management can help employees move towards them,” Rabindra said.

She said the problem facing Australia is that managers are too entrenched in traditions of employment that don’t allow employees to move up an organization’s hierarchy due to age and even experience requirements. “Managers must break traditions,” Rabindra said. “People need to be [tested], and we need ongoing mentoring and coaching systems instead of stand-alone training.”

Price agreed with Rabindra, “It has to be brought down to the basics. Real leadership in ICT is not just about doing the task, but about making sure that the people involved at the individual and group levels want to be there,” Price said.

IDG is the official organizer and media sponsor of the SEARCC 05 conference.

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