3 Critical Soft Skills That Every CIO Must Have

by drjim on June 17, 2015

CIOs need to know how to use their soft skills to connect with their department

CIOs need to know how to use their soft skills to connect with their department

Image Credit: aiesecgermany

Nobody ever told you that being the CIO was going to be easy. What they also failed to tell you was just exactly how hard it was going to be! Sure, you have the challenge of mastering the importance of information technology and trying to stay on top of all of the changes that are going on in the world of IT, but there’s more to this job than just that. What too many of us are missing are the 3 critical soft skills that we need in order to be able to do our CIO job correctly.

Have A Vision

It’s basically the ultimate soft skill, but as the person with the CIO job it is your responsibility to not only have a vision, but to also be able to clearly communicate that vision to the rest of your department. One of the things that you need to realize is that a lot of the things that you do, like cutting costs and boosting company profits won’t cut it as part of vision. Instead, you need to focus on what you want the IT department’s vision to say to your employees. Pick a noble cause and make your vision a part of that.

Make Everyone Feel A Sense Of Ownership

It’s going to be very hard for your IT department to commit themselves to achieving your vision if the members of your staff don’t feel a sense of ownership. You need to find ways to make them feel as though it’s not “the company’s” IT department, but rather it’s their IT department. There are a lot of different ways to go about making this happen. One is to ask the members of your IT department to identify any barriers that are preventing them from effectively doing their job. Once they tell you what they are, work with them to eliminate them.

Create A Culture Of 2-Way Communication

As the person in the CIO position, it can be all too easy to get used to barking orders and assuming that they will get taken care of. However, not everyone is going to be ready to hear what you have to say when you say it. What this means is that you are going to have to get good at repeating yourself in many different ways. As the CIO you need to spend a big part of your time sharing information with the rest of the department about changes that are coming their way. Then take the time to listen to what your staff has to say about those changes and take action based on what they say.

What All Of This Means For You

Being a CIO is not all about mastering the technical aspects of running a firm’s IT department. Instead, there are a lot of different soft skills that you need to have in order to be able to lead your IT team forward to where you want them to go. Mastering 3 of these soft skills will provide you with the leadership skills that you need in order to be successful.

You need to be able to create a vision of where you want the IT department to go that the rest of the IT department is going to be able to get behind. Next, you are going to have to hand over ownership of the IT department to your staff so that they feel as though it is “their” IT department. Finally, you need to spend your time telling your team the same things over and over again as you build a culture of two-way communications.

The secret to being a successful CIO is to master the challenge of how best to communicate with your IT department. Taking the time to master 3 of the most important soft skills is one of the ways to make this happen. Take a look at these skills and determine how quickly you can implement them.

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

Question For You: Do you think that communicating with your IT department on a regular schedule would improve their understanding of what is going on?

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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

Staffing an IT department is easily a full-time job in of itself. As the person with the CIO job, you’ve probably already realized this. However, in addition to staying on top of the importance of information technology, just filling all of the open spots in your IT department is not the only task that you have to accomplish. Once you have the people that you need, your next step has to be to find ways to boost their skills. Oh, and you need to find ways to do this without increasing your IT headcount. Got any thoughts on how best to do this?

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