Inside track: How to pick a winner

Leadership, integrity and partnership are the watchwords for success.

Leadership, integrity and partnership are the watchwords for success.

It is time to look back over four years, at what has created most interest among people I know; the prediction I got totally wrong; and the most unusual feedback received.

The subjects that people mention to me most frequently are, in order:
Leadership and the release of human potential - I write about this more than any other topic, and the biggest challenge is to find new ways to say the same thing. Why still cover it? Because absolutely everyone agrees it is critical, but so few "leaders" do anything about it. The key is to place your people at the heart of everything you do - and identify your key people - the ones you most need to have on side, and the first who will leave you in times of uncertainty.

Values and integrity are high on the agenda in the wake of recent scandals. At last organisations are realising that trust and ethics have a critical part to play, and that during tough economic times people most want one thing, and that is to know where they stand. Put in place a set of values that you live by every day.

Supplier partnerships - more software companies went out of business in the first three months of 2002 than in the whole of 2001, partly because suppliers do not see themselves as partners. Driven by big issues such as Microsoft's licensing, and fuelled by supplier let-downs, this is a massive issue. Suppliers become trusted partners with openness, both ways.

Turning to the prediction I got totally wrong, in 1999 I was convinced about the dangers of the Y2K millennium bug. I wrote about it every few weeks, and was increasingly staggered by the inaction of many companies.

And what happened? To be honest I don't know. France awarded hero status to its IT leaders. I led a large team avoiding the problem and yet when the time came, nothing happened. A chief executive told me that the whole thing was a stitch-up, a massive conspiracy on the part of the IT industry to waste billions of pounds.

The three most unusual pieces of feedback, in reverse order were:
Several e-mails from a very nice woman, received last year, asking me to marry her. She was quite genuine, and, of course, I was flattered, particularly as she and I had never met. She was proposing on the basis of that (dodgy) picture that appears in Computer Weekly. However, already having a wife and family . . .

I am often sent columns written by suppliers, who ask me to publish them in my own name which, of course, I never do. However, one week I received a series of 10, all on the same subject (CRM). The covering e-mail said, "Please publish these 10 columns over the next 10 weeks in Computer Weekly." I declined, but admired the writer's confidence.
I have received two death threats, both as a result of a column I wrote about

David Taylor is author of The Naked Leader and president of IT directors' group Certus

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