I’m guessing that you wouldn’t go to work naked. Then why-oh-why are you thinking about eventually becoming a CIO when you don’t have all of the skills that you’ll need to do the job correctly?
I’m not sure if this is going to make you feel any better, but it turns out that most CIOs are showing up for work only partially dressed when you consider what skills they are missing. Maybe we’d better have a talk about this…
Can You Communicate?
All too often, IT folks assume that good communication skills mean that you have the ability to get up in front of a group of people and deliver a speech without bursting into flames. Yes, this is good skill to have, but a CIO has to have more.
Remember, communication is a two-way street and not only does a CIO need to be able to tell others what to do, but you are also going to have to be able to listen to what others are telling you.
No, we’re not talking about having the ability to sit there and listen when someone else is talking to you just waiting for them to pause so that you can start talking again. Instead, a CIO needs to be able to listen, process what has been said, and then ask good, pointed questions that will help get to the bottom of any discussion.
Just to round things out, a CIO also needs to have the communication skill that will allow them to “close” a discussion. This is when you ask a final question and then have the strength to keep you mouth closed and allow the other person to provide an answer. This is how you wrap things up cleanly.
Promote, Promote, Promote!
All too often CIOs seem to have a “build it and they will come” sort of attitude. They believe that if both the IT department and by extension themselves do a good job then the rest of the company will realize it and their value to the company will increase. Sorry, it doesn’t work that way.
What CIOs need to be doing is constantly promoting both themselves and the IT department. Now you have to be careful here, note that I didn’t say “bragging”. The difference is subtle, but important.
One way that a CIO can show the value of both his position as well as the IT department is to become the thought leader on all things technical. By researching new technologies and then taking the time to educate the rest of the company about what they mean and how they can be used by the business in order to be more successful, both the CIO and the IT department will become recognized as a valuable resource.
Make A Friend (or Two)
Within the world of IT, there is often a “loner” attitude that many of us hold: I can do it all by myself. When you become CIO, you need to stop thinking this way and start making as many contacts as you can.
A CIO is only as strong as his / her network and that means taking the time to develop real relationships with as many people as possible. Not all CIOs have this skill.
What All Of This Means For You
If you really want to eventually become the CIO, you’ve got some work to do. There are a set of skills that you’ll need to have developed before your big day comes.
In order to remain a CIO once you get there, you’re going to have to have the ability to be a good two-way communicator. You’ll have to learn to spend your time tirelessly promoting both the IT department and your value to the company. Finally, you are going to have to get good at that critical skill: networking.
None of these three skills are impossible to do. However, the key to being a successful CIO is to get good at doing all three at the same time…!
Question For You: Which of these three skills do you think is the most important for a CIO to have?
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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time
Perhaps just for a moment we can consider the day-to-day activities of any IT department as being a sort of race. Collectively we are all running and trying to move out in front of the IT departments at the firms that our company is competing with. In this type of analogy, the CIO is running out in front of everyone else and is showing the department which way to go. But how does the CIO know where to go?