IBM Leadership Competencies

I had referred to 11 IBM Leadership Competencies in my previous posts. Fortunately I had managed to get more details (below) of these competencies in Management and Organisational  Behaviour by Laurie J. Mullins – (2005)(Page 319-320). Hope this would give us additional insights to understand efforts taken by Mr. Louis Gerstner for the transformation of IBM during his tenure. [ IBM - List of Competencies page 210, Who Says Elephants Can't Dance? (2002) ]. This post will give us a complete picture of the significant role of competencies in organizational transformation. 

Focus to Win

Customer Insight

Outstanding IBM managers and senior professionals put themselves in the minds of the customer, and see customers’ needs and businesses, from the customers’ point of view. They focus on the unexpressed or future needs of the customer. Managers and senior professionals having Customers’ Insight go beyond IBM’s exemplary responsiveness to customer complaints or problems. They don’t just try to sell IBM products or services. They spend time with customers and others in the marketplace to understand the underlying, unmet needs that technology can address. On the basis of this understanding, they focus on new business opportunities for their area by finding a product or service that is quickly recognized as valuable to the customer. In support functions, outstanding IBM managers and senior professionals focus on understanding the real needs of their internal customers and on providing solutions that meet them.

Breakthrough Thinking

Outstanding IBM managers and senior professionals use their abstraction capabilities on focus on what is really important and to provide new insights on how IBM can win in the market-place. They are able to face complex issues in a quick and innovative way (they adequately process information and provide the right support to reach the prospected goals). They identify and develop new solutions. They explore the market, recognize trends, look for new ways to capture even the smallest segments or niches in which to concentrate their efforts and actions. They are interested in understanding how other areas of business interact with their own in order to exploit and develop new market opportunities or new ways of doing things.

Drive to achieve

Outstanding IBM managers and senior professionals are constantly looking for ways to make things better (e.g. do things faster, at lower costs, or higher quality). They set improvement and challenging goals for themselves and their areas and evaluate results to see how they (and their businesses) are performing. They act on their own initiative and take on responsibilities. They take calculated business risks to pursue challenging goals and to improve performance on the basis of an explicit cost/benefit analysis.

Mobilize to Execute

Team Leadership

Outstanding IBM managers and senior professionals create and focus on the sense of urgency to meet a challenge or to implement a strategy to reach their goals. They provide a sense of direction and purpose to their team and use ongoing and influential actions to encourage people to pursue that direction. Team leadership is critical to execution.

Straight Talk

Outstanding IBM managers and senior professionals candidly tell the truth and openly share relevant information with peers, managers and subordinates. They ensure the ‘whole’ story is told, not just their position. They act with integrity that is consistent with their beliefs, e.g. telling the truth when it is difficult or when such truth will be unwelcome. This leadership capability is essential to energize a team to quickly execute a new direction.


Outstanding IBM managers and senior professionals work collaboratively and co-operatively across organizational lines and with their own teams to serve the customer and win over competition. They can be relied on to actively support and enact team decisions or commitments to the team. They accurately and objectively represent their managers’ and peers’ perspectives to the team members. They foster teamwork by treating their own teams with respect and empowering them to make decisions without second guessing. They celebrate their team’s successes and encourage all team members to be accountable to each other, and to work in collaboration across organizational lines.


Outstanding IBM managers and senior professionals make and act on tough decisions with the speed and sense of urgency needed to stay with or ahead of the market, competition and customer needs, or to improve the organization.

Sustain Momentum

Building Organizational Capability

Outstanding IBM managers and senior professionals act to build the organization’s longer-term ability to produce and sustain excellent results. They take control of the situation to improve it, and follow through in an influential manner. They proactively and quickly re-align the systems or processes of their own area. They ensure that the right people are in place and that effective networks across the organization, correct measures and information are implemented and supplied to support the business strategy, not just for the sake of change.


Outstanding IBM managers and senior professionals actively mentor or coach others in an individualized, one-to-one manner to build a strong team now and for the future. They take on responsibility to identify and to support the development of talented people and have a positive impact on the professional growth of IBM’s people. They enjoy seeing other people grow and move on.

Personal Dedication

Outstanding IBM managers and senior professionals act in ways that promote organizational goals and strategies. They align their personal needs, priorities and activities with IBM needs and goals – not with their own individual organization. They support tough decisions made for the overall benefit of IBM.

The Core

Passion for the Business

Outstanding IBM managers and senior professionals are passionate about their business and winning in the marketplace. They are excited about what IBM technologies and services can do for the world. They are enthusiastic about how IBM serves its customers and wins over competitors. They embrace IBM’s purposes to move with the speed customers are expecting, providing them with leading-edge networks and technologies. And they want to ‘get it right’. Passion for the Business is at the ‘heart and soul’ of the model. It fuels Customer Insight, Breakthrough Thinking and Drive to Achieve, which energize them.


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