Leadership Old, Leadership New and Leadership Navy Blue

Monday, May 5th, 2008

Memorial Day weekend, like July 4th, means more to me each year as my sons near enrollment in our adult world.

I observe that the main difference between our generation of managers and those raised on the Internet is that we grew up in a world where Knowledge is Power. Getting ahead often meant knowing the most. They grow up in a world where Everyone Knows and where the Sharing of Knowledge is Power. For our organizations to succeed in this transition, we must be coaches more than managers so that our employees can be players more than spectators. This behavior is different than we’re used to and will require commitment, character and courage – hallmarks of leadership.

Leadership, like innovation, assumes many forms and representations:

IBM’s announced this morning that our VP for Innovation & Technology, Nick Donofrio, will retire in October. We dreaded this notice. Every time he addressed us, his candid, simply insightful and passionate remarks informed every employee of an IBM that was and strives to be in this uncertain and exciting time. After forty-four years with the company (he and System 360 joined in 1964) he won’t be replaced – ’cause we can’t.

I hope that you had the chance to read the description of the women’s softball game in Ellensburg, Washington last month between Central Washington and Western Oregon.  Sara Tucholsky of WO hit a home run to put her team into the lead. Rounding first base, she twisted her knee, falling to the ground unable to continue around to home plate. The game’s rules prevent teammates from assisting one of their own players around the bases.  No problem. Two players from the opposing Central Washington team carried Sara to second base, to third base, and to home plate so that her hit would count.

On Saturday, the USS North Carolina, SSN -777, was commissioned into naval service in Wilmington, North Carolina. This nuclear-powered submarine is about 350′ long with a crew of about 140 and can be required to patrol underwater for up to 60 consecutive days.  If you’re ever doubtful of the caliber of our young Americans or want to observe the power of purpose, please take a tour of one of these impressive boats.

Now you know a little bit of what I know, please put it to use. Nick would appreciate it.