Just imagine that amazing moment in the future when you finally become the CIO! Now imagine yourself all alone – none of the other “C” level executives want to play with you. What’s going on here?
Not An Equal Among Peers
Something is seriously wrong in the world of CIOs. In most companies they are not being treated as a member of the senior management team. Instead, they are viewed as being simply viewed as technical specialists. Dang, what’s gone wrong here?
If you take a moment and talk with the other senior managers who are actually running the company you’ll start to hear the same things over and over again. CIOs just aren’t seen as having enough of the general management skills that it takes to participate in the process of running a company of any significant size. Other managers view the CIO as more often than not lacking both the strategic vision as well as the basic interpersonal skills that it takes to be a true leader.
What makes this a bit of a double whammy for a CIO is that the very skills that got you to this top spot in IT may be the ones that are holding you back now. Although this doesn’t really seem fair, there is good news here.
It turns out that the skills that a CIO needs in order to succeed can be learned (have I mentioned that Blue Elephant Consulting can help in this area?). The key is to understand just exactly what skills you will need.
That Leadership Thing
A classic CIO is someone who waits around to be told what to do instead of taking the lead. This skill is the way that most projects are run within the IT department – we get requirements from the customers / end users and then we apply our IT knowledge to solving their issues.
However, in the real world of business things don’t work that way. The CIO needs to be out in front showing true leadership. He / she needs to be uncovering the issues that are holding the company back and then showing the rest of the company what parts of solving that problem can be handled by IT and how the rest of the company has to lend a hand.
Are You Thinking Strategically?
Since the world of IT is often insulated from the world outside of the company, most CIOs have never had to think about how their actions (and now the IT department’s actions) impact the company’s competitive posture.
For that matter, most CIOs probably don’t know what the company’s current strategy is. It never mattered before. Once you become the CIO these things start to become very important. The key question that the CIO needs to be able to answer (every day) is what is the IT department doing to implement the company’s strategy right now?
It’s Not About Information, It’s All About Knowledge
As though staying on top of everything that is going on in the world of IT wasn’t enough, CIOs also have to be aware of what’s going on the rest of the company as well as in its marketplace. Needless to say, it can be easy to become overwhelmed with lots and lots of raw information.
In order to be able to contribute to the management of the company, CIOs need to be able to take all of this information in and process it. The ability to synthesis lots and lots of inputs and then make solid well-thought out decisions is what the rest of the management team is expecting the CIO to be able to do.
What All Of This Means For You
Gone are the days when a CIO could afford to be a wallflower in the executive boardroom. IT is too critical to how every company hopes to succeed to allow the CIO to not be a vital part of the company’s management team.
In order to make this happen when you become CIO, you’re going to need to make sure that you have the skills that the other senior managers are going to be expecting you to have. This will include the ability to lead, to think strategically, and to process large amounts of information.
Although this may all strike you as being just a bit scary, don’t be put off. Everything is doable and now that you know what will be expected of you, you can get a head start on learning what you need to know…
Question For You: What do you think the #1 skill that a CIO must have is?
P.S.: Free subscriptions to The Accidental Successful CIO Newsletter are now available. Learn what you need to know to do the job. Subscribe now: Click Here!
What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time
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…