Know-It-All CIOs Are The Source Of The Problem

Know-it-all CIOs don't think that they need input from anyone
Know-it-all CIOs don’t think that they need input from anyone
Image Credit: Charles Kremenak

CIOs who are excited about their jobs and who are ambitious often like to act like they know everything. This kind of behavior becomes very visible to everyone that they work with. As they move on in their career, these CIOs often start to realize that, despite the importance of information technology, just how little they actually did know. Acting this way can be a severe career limiter for CIOs. What we need to do is to understand what it looks like when we are acting like a know-it-all and what we can do to stop this kind of behavior.

The Know-It-All

So just exactly what does a know-it-all CIO look like? These people in the CIO position are the ones who tend to exclude others from decisions, they cut off opportunities to collaborate with others, they are the ones who dominate meetings, and they have no time for anyone to criticize them. These is a reason that these people with CIO job are behaving this way. The know-it-all CIO acts this way in order to attempt to inspire confidence. They desperately want to avoid looking weak to others.

Know-it-all CIOs pretend that they have all of the answers. They are doing this so that they won’t appear vulnerable. In the past, know-it-all CIOs often did very well at their firms. However, things have changed, especially in the world of IT. These days the complexity of running an IT department and the depth of knowledge that a CIO requires in order to be an effective leader makes being a know-it-all almost impossible.

What CIOs need to understand is that asking someone for advice is never a sign of weakness. What know-it-all CIOs need to learn is how to become more inclusive decision makers. These CIOs have to learn that their job is to prioritize their coworkers best ideas so that they don’t have to be the one coming up with all of the ideas.

How To Not Be A Know-It-All

One of the biggest problems that know-it-all CIOs run into is that they like to surround themselves with people who just agree with them. What they should be doing is recruiting people who come from different backgrounds and who have different viewpoints than they do. You can spot a know-it-all CIO because they act like they have all of the answers. Additionally, they will only occasionally ask for input from their team.

CIOs need to understand that when they are making decisions about other colleagues, being a know-it-all CIO can be a real hindrance. They’ll tend to make a decision about somebody and won’t ask for anyone else’s input. In fact, if input is given, they will most likely ignore it. A much better way for a CIO to handle a situation like this is to make it a collective decision where the CIO is only given one vote instead of giving him veto power.

When know-it-all CIOs start to get feedback that they are not asking for input from others during meetings, they are going to have to start to change their ways. They may initially find it hard to ask for help and will find it difficult to accept criticism like this. However, they do need to accept it and then change their ways. Another characteristic of know-it-all CIOs is that they tend to become defensive when their ideas are questioned and try to make people believe that they know it all. When this happens, what they should be doing is pause before they react to the input. CIOs need to listen to learn instead of reacting.

What All Of This Means For You

One of the worst kinds of CIOs are the know-it-all CIOs. These CIOs believe that they don’t need any input from anyone else because they know what needs to be done. The problem with being this kind of CIO is that others can tell that you are acting this way and it can end up being a real career limiter.

Know-it-all CIOs don’t take the time to listen to others. They cut people off in meetings and they don’t seek out others opinions. They act this way so that they won’t be seen as being weak. Know-it-all CIOs act like they have all of the answers; however, the world of IT has become so complex that this is no longer possible. Know-it-all CIOs need to learn to ask other people for their options. Know-it-all CIOs tend to surround themselves with people who always agree with them. CIOs need to learn how to make collective decisions where they are only given one vote. When know-it-all CIOs get criticism, they often push back. They need to learn to pause and understand that multiple perspectives can be valuable.

At some point in our careers we may have all been a know-it-all CIO. We were this way simply because we were in a difficult job and we were scared that others might realize that we really didn’t know what we were doing. We need to grow out of this phase and become more inclusive in our decision making. We need to understand that we can only be successful if we can get and use diverse opinions. The best CIOs are the ones who are not afraid to ask for help.

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

Question For You: What do you think would be the best way to find out if you are a know-it-all boss?

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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

Just exactly how important is a CIO? A startup health care company tried to accomplish the creation of a new way for patients to purchase prescriptions online; however, they quickly ran into problems and failed. This time around they understand that things have to be different. This time around they’re hiring a CIO to help them do it correctly.

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