What Are The 5 Skills It Takes To Be A Successful CIO?

It takes talent and these 5 skills to be a successful CIO
It takes talent and these 5 skills to be a successful CIO
Image Credit: Alan Levine

So CIO, are you a good manager? I suspect that most of us think that we are. However, over at the Gallop company they have just completed a survey of managers. What they discovered is that only one in 10 people actually possesses the talent to manage others. Ouch! This magical 10 percent who have what it takes to be a good manager frequently realize 48 percent greater profitability, 22 percent greater productivity, 17 percent greater employee engagement, 5 percent greater customer engagement, and 19 percent less turnover according to Gallup. Are you one of the 10%? Do you have the 5 talents that every person with the CIO job needs?

They Motivate Every Single Employee To Take Action

Good CIOs realize that motivation requires exploration. Great CIOs will find ways to tap into what gets their team members excited about work and will ask engaging questions about what they (employees) need to do their job better. Do they need more resources? Better equipment? More information? Training? Better space? Now that they’re set on course, forward-thinking people in the CIO position will establish a company or team vision and enroll their followers to express their voices as co-creators and co-contributors to the vision. This type of behavior is relational, adding to intrinsic motivation where people in your IT department feel liberated and empowered to collaborate, innovate, and engage.

They Have The Assertiveness To Drive Outcomes

Let us all agree that assertiveness is good under pressure or during uncertain times. However, the best CIOs are graceful when creating outcomes because they understand the importance of information technology, and especially when dealing with all types of people. Good CIOs have the self-confidence to boldly declare their stance on an issue (even when it’s an unpopular choice) and let their yes be yes and their no be no under pressure. It’s what most thoughtful employees seek in a trustworthy boss – someone who values the rule of setting boundaries. A boss who defines what is acceptable behavior and what isn’t–then communicates those expectations for accountability, with tact, to the whole team.

They Create A Culture Of Clear Accountability

CIOs who help employees establish and prioritize their work goals and then encourage their employees’ performance with clear and continuous expectations will have employees who are much more accountable and engaged in their work. Accountability is also a two-way street. The best companies hold their CIOs accountable for listening and responding to the expressed needs of team members and creating positive change.

They Are Good At Building Relationships

The folks at Gallup found that more than half of employees who strongly agree that they feel they can talk with their manager about nonwork-related issues (55 percent) and can approach their manager with any type of question (54 percent) for open dialogue are engaged at work. This is in contrast with fewer than one in 10 who strongly disagrees with these statements and is also engaged in his or her work. What does all of this mean? Managers who promote transparency, an open work environment, and open lines of communication will increase their teams’ engagement. It sure seems like this is what CIOs should be spending their time doing.

They Make Decisions Based On Productivity, Not Politics

This is because great CIOs encourage healthy relationships and team collaboration as the best way to sustain productivity and deter something like politics or competition among the team (a completely impractical idea for boosting productivity). CIOs who are protectors of the culture seriously regard politics or any other toxic behaviors as a threat to the shared values of the team, and will quickly dispose of them. No, this is not easy to do and yes, it can take up a lot of a CIOs time. However, the results make any time spent doing this well worth the effort.

What All Of This Means For You

Let’s face it – very few people can pull off all five of these skills of good management, so you should not be discouraged. However, the list of five manager talents are learned skills and this means that if you don’t have them now, you can pick them up.

The real question you need to face comes down to conscious choice and intent: are you willing to devote yourself to consistently learning and applying what would help you be more successful on the job? And is your company equally devoted to building you up as a CIO with these skills?

The most important thing for a CIO is to know what you need to do in order to become better. Each of these 5 skills is critical for you to become a better CIO. Take the time to work at developing each one of them and you just might be surprised at how much more you will be able to get accomplished!

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

Question For You: What’s the best way to motivate every employee when they are each so different?

Click here to get automatic updates when The Accidental Successful CIO Blog is updated.

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

CIOs at banks have a great deal to worry about. Simply because their companies have so much valuable data and money, the bad guys are always trying to break in and steal things. As though this wasn’t bad enough, every bank is connected to every other bank. What this means is that if something bad happened to a connected bank, then your bank could also suffer. In order to prevent doomsday scenarios like this from happening, the people in the bank CIO position have come up with a plan.