Former IBM executive discusses crisis leadership

Anne Altman, CEO of Everyone Matters, joins Aileen Black on Leaders and Legends to discuss leadership and how to lead during times of crisis.

Altman is well known for her expertise and leadership in the business of government, technology and the Public Sector. She worked at IBM for 35 years, and during her tenure there she served as general manager of U.S. Federal and Government Industries, general manager of the Global Public Sector, and general manager of System z, IBM’s world renowned mainframe. In these capacities, Altman managed global profit and losses, sales, operations, manufacturing and development.

After retiring from IBM, Altman co-founded Everyone Matters, Inc., a social impact enterprise dedicated to ensuring that everyone has equal access to citizen-based services, health care and education.

Altman said she tries to be an “authentic” leader who encourages members of her team to speak up when discussing how to help her company fulfill its mission. Being a good listener helps her develop what she called a “balanced view” to solving problems.

It’s a lesson she learned early in her career, when she said she worked with good and bad leaders.

“You can learn from others what to do and what not to do, and decide what attributes you want to leverage in your style.”

She said she had many great mentors during her time at IBM, including one who showed her the value of inclusivity.

Altman learned that “there is power in bringing many different voices to the table and you need to be committed to it and it provides a great deal of value.”

She adds that diversity is important, especially now, because there is currently a shortage of women in tech leadership positions.

Altman is a mentor herself and supports programs that are designed to be inclusive early in the tech career journey. She works with George Mason University to set up programs to help encourage students to go into tech and has worked to create a curriculum that will allow GMU graduates to have the right skill sets. Altman is also on the Northern Virginia Technology Council, and pointed out that the Washington, D.C. area is truly an innovation hub and one of the fastest growing regions of tech innovation in the country.

In addition to her mentors, Altman also said she was inspired by the book Authentic Leadership — Rediscovering the Secrets to Creating Lasting Value.

The book taught her the importance of “finding your voice and being your authentic self,” and she said its important for leaders to understand that what they say has value.

“Speak up, find your voice and be your authentic self. Take the time to listen, be informed. Then the decisions you make can be through the lens of the data you gather.”

According to Altman, those traits will come in handy during times of crisis because that’s when leaders need to listen, be collaborative with stakeholders, and then motivate their team.

“You can’t get that in the wrong order,” she said.

Altman also offered some advice for the next generation of leaders.

“Find something to do that you are passionate about, make sure you get up every day excited about what you are doing and that it challenges you. You need to check that you are growing and happy.”


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Leaders and Legends

Leaders and Legends

Host Aileen Black interviews federal leaders who have left their mark on government and made a lasting imprint on the nation. Hear what goes on behind the scenes in the nation's capital and why working for the federal government is so unique. Subscribe on PodcastOne.