CIOs have a tough job and we all know it. However, because it is so tough, it can be easy to lose sight of what is really important. As we look for ways to cut costs, boost innovation, retain key employees and simply make IT more relevant to the rest of the company, our vision can start to drift downwards towards the daily tasks and short term goals. This is when we can forget what our real job is – to show the rest of the company what responsibility really is.
The Things That Are Important
Dr. C.K. Prahalad spent time thinking about what is really important. I believe that he’s come up with a great set of things that CIOs need to be focusing on and they all have to do with responsibility.
CIO’s need to realize that in order to move the IT department and the company forward, they can’t always play by the rules. The rules are what got everyone to where they are today. In order to get to where you need to be in the future, you can’t keep doing the same things.
You are going to need to have the courage to try new things. To go places where people have not gone before. When you do this, others are going to tell you that you are breaking the rules, doing things that shouldn’t be done. You will have to have the courage and fortitude to stay the course in order to map out these uncharted lands.
You will need to realize that you truly don’t know it all. In fact, you probably don’t know most of what you are going to have to know going forward. This means that you are going to have to always be learning. The key here is to be able to admit that you don’t know it all and that you need to find others who will be willing to teach you what you still need to learn.
Being a CIO is not a point in time, but rather a journey. You have to take the long-term perspective in everything that you do. During your career you will have some amazing successes and some spectacular failures. You are going to need to learn how to be modest when you have done good and you are going to have to find ways to keep going on when things don’t go your way.
The Role That Other People Play
Being a CIO is very much like being a farmer. It’s not all about the farm, but rather about what you raise on the farm that will determine how much of a success you will eventually be. CIOs don’t grow crops, but we do grow people. One of your most important jobs is to develop the next generation of IT leaders.
Not everyone will have your skills or talents. As CIO you need to realize this and you need to find ways to work with them. It is all too easy to discard or ignore those who don’t measure up to what we think everyone should be. However, the world doesn’t always look the way that we think that it should and we are the ones who need to change in order to make it a better place, not everyone else.
Although we don’t talk about it enough, loyalty is one of the most important things that we can bring to the role of CIO. We want our team to be loyal to us, but we need to show them what that means by being loyal to them and to those around us.
CIOs need to be willing to take responsibility for the ways that things turn out. Ultimately it is our IT department that we are running and everything that happens in it is our responsibility. We can’t just accept the praise for the things that go well and run from the blame for the things that don’t turn out how we had hoped. We are all in this together.
What All Of This Means For You
To become a CIO is truly an honor – the company has selected you to lead the IT department. Yes, there are great things expected of you, but at the same time there are unspoken expectations also.
You are to show the rest of the company just what responsibility really means. Others can hide or avoid doing what has been asked of them, you don’t have such luxuries. You stand alone in the company’s spotlight and you are going to have to deliver.
The good news is that you wouldn’t have been given the job if others didn’t think that you could do it. There’s no question that you’ve got the technical skills to be CIO. It’s all of the other things, the “soft skills” that will tax you on a daily basis. As long as you realize that it’s your job to show the rest of the company what responsibility really means, then you’ll end up doing just fine.
Question For You: Do you think that CIOs need to hold themselves to a higher standard than the rest of the IT department?
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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time
Sure a CIO needs to know his / her technical stuff, but at the end of the day you are really a manager. As a manager, it’s your job to get the most out of each of the employees of the IT department. Do you have any clue as to what motivates your employees to do their best work…?