How CIOs Can Use Words To Boost Their Power And Credibility

by drjim on February 4, 2015

Being a CIO is all about having the power that you need to do your job

Being a CIO is all about having the power that you need to do your job
Image Credit: Frédéric BISSON

As the person with the CIO job, because of the importance of information technology your company expects a great deal from you. However, if you have not managed to gather the power and the credibility that you are going to need in order to successfully accomplish your job, then it’s going to be very hard for you to accomplish what you need to get done. What this means is that you need to discover how to boost both your power and your credibility…

Watch Your Words

There is no question that the rest of the company realizes that the CIO can play an important role in the overall success of the company. However, it’s how easy it is for the rest of the company to interact with the CIO that will go a long way in determining how much political power you are able to gather to yourself. Do it incorrectly and all of a sudden everything that you want to accomplish will become harder to do.

The first thing that every CIO needs to realize is that the words, acronyms, and technical talk that we all use within the world of IT needs to stay there – in IT. Just spend a moment and think about the words that you use when you are talking with your team: servers, cloud, API, uptime, HTML, CSS, bandwidth, router, etc. Sure, we all know what these terms mean and in fact in order to do our IT job correctly we need to use them to clearly and accurately communicate what we either are working on or are going to be working on.

However, the problem arises when we go to have discussions with other parts of the company. They have no idea what any of these terms mean. What this means for us is that if we use IT terms when we are talking with non-IT employees, we’ll just end up confusing them. If we are viewed as being hard to talk to, others will simply stop talking to us. That’s why as the CIO it is your responsibility to drop all of the IT lingo that you use within the IT department when you are talking with marketing, sales, accounting, etc. Use their vocabulary which deals with things like the bottom line, business objectives, competition, etc.

It’s All About Face Time

As a CIO you will not be able to accomplish what the company expects you to get done if you can’t work closely with the rest of the company. In order to make this happen, the burden of creating relationships with the other parts of the company falls upon your shoulders. It is not their responsibility to reach out to you, rather it is your responsibility to reach out to them.

One way to develop a deeper relationship with other leaders in your company is to take the time to go meet with them face-to-face. All too often CIOs can find themselves hiding behind a wall of emails, texts, and perhaps even video conferences. The best (and perhaps the only) way to really connect with someone is to get out from behind your desk and go spend some quality time with them.

There are a lot of different ways to go about doing this. One of the simplest is to offer to take other members of the company’s leadership out to lunch. If they accept your offer, then you need to make it happen. Besides eating and drinking with them, use this time to dive deeper into what their issues are. What are the challenges that their part of the company is facing right now? What kind of help do they need? If you can gather this type of information, then you’ll be in a better position to have the IT department do what it is supposed to do – make the rest of the company run faster and better.

What All Of This Means For You

Knowing your technology and how to manage technical professionals are important parts of being a successful CIO. However, no CIO is an island and this means that you need to be able to work with the rest of the company in order to accomplish all of the things that are expected of you. What this means is that you are going to need to find ways to boost both your power and your credibility.

Since you are in the CIO position, you are the one who is going to have to change – the rest of the company won’t change to accommodate you. The first thing that you need to realize is that your IT vocabulary is something that will hold you back. Stop using IT terms and start using the business terms that the rest of the company uses. Also take the time to meet face-to-face with other parts of the business so that they know who you are and you know how they think.

A cell phone is of no use unless it’s been charged. A CIO is of no use unless her or she has power. Power won’t be handed to you and so you’ll need to take steps to get the power that you’ll need. Follow these suggestions and you’ll be able to accomplish all of the things that the company needs you to do.

– Dr. Jim Anderson
Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World IT Department Leadership Skills™

Question For You: Should a CIO ever try to teach the rest of the company IT terms?

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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

I’m sure that by now you’ve read some of the stories that are out there about CIOs who managed to get themselves into outsourcing contracts that turned out badly. The reasons that the deals took a turn for the worse are many and varied, but the end result is the same: the CIO’s customers were left feeling unsatisfied. Since you are the person with the CIO job, you sure don’t want that to happen to you. What’s the secret to making your next outsourcing job go well?

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