Great leadership, the right culture; which comes first?

A formula for success; we all wish we had one. Some great business leaders, like Steve Jobs, just seem to have the touch. But that’s something innate, something that can’t be taught, let alone fostered by establishing a specific corporate culture.

For most of us, the question of how leadership skills can be developed is a tough one. Do great leaders simply arrive on the scene and foster the kind of corporate culture that enables more great leaders to develop down the road? Or does the culture have to be in place first? And if so, how do you make that happen? With great leadership of course.

It gets confusing if you think about it too much. In a recent column publisher Adam Dennison decided it’s probably a bit of both. You need the right business culture, but you also need the leadership.

“A dynamic leader will create a culture that draws in high-quality people, and over time, that culture becomes a breeding ground for future leaders,” Dennison writes.

Dennison mentions a talk given by Wayne Shurts, executive vice president and CTO at Sysco (Nasdaq: SYY), during the “CIO Perspectives” event in Atlanta in March. Shurts, Dennison relates, is fighting to make his company’s IT department a more attractive, cool place to work, in the face of tech-forward, deep-pocketed competition from huge energy companies in Sysco’s hometown, Houston.

Dennison says Shurts isn’t put off by the odds, and believes that bigger isn’t always better.

“We stay close, so we know what the business needs, but it’s really about becoming proactive,” Dennison quotes Shurts as saying. “We’re going in with ideas for stuff [that our business colleagues] haven’t even talked about yet. We’re constantly challenging ourselves.”

Dennison closes with a remembrance of Pat McGovern, who passed away in March. McGovern was founder and chairman of technology publisher and IT research firm IDG.

“I worked for a competitor for seven years before joining IDG, and like everyone in tech publishing, I respected and admired Mr. McGovern,” Dennison writes. “Once I joined his company in 2007, I saw why the IDG culture was so highly regarded, and why there are so many 20- and 30-year veterans among the newcomers like myself.”

In McGovern’s case, “ the leadership fostered the culture,” Dennison says. And years later the two reinforce each other. “That’s exactly the kind of legacy every leader should aspire to leave behind.”

Andrew Brooks
Andrew Brooks
Andrew Brooks is managing editor of IT World Canada. He has been a technology journalist and editor for 20 years, including stints at Technology in Government, Computing Canada and other publications.

Would you recommend this article?


Thanks for taking the time to let us know what you think of this article!
We'd love to hear your opinion about this or any other story you read in our publication.

Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

Featured Download

ITW in your inbox

Our experienced team of journalists and bloggers bring you engaging in-depth interviews, videos and content targeted to IT professionals and line-of-business executives.

More Best of The Web