Do Great CIOs Need To Learn How To Be Humble?

CIOs need to learn to be humble in order to be successful
CIOs need to learn to be humble in order to be successful
Image Credit: Fr Lawrence Lew, O.P.

As the CIO you feel as though you are in charge of your IT department. What this means for most of us is that we need to continuously be showing everyone that we are the person in charge. Since we’ve been asked to lead the IT team, we need to be filled with self-confidence and be willing to show that to everyone. However, perhaps we’ve been doing just a bit too much of this? Is it time for us to learn how to become more humble?

The Benefits Of Being Humble

One of the first questions that we need to be asking ourselves is why be humble? Most of us don’t view being a humble person as fitting with our perception of what it takes to be a successful CIO. However, times are changing and it is entirely possible that the people that you report to (CEO, CFO, the board) are now looking for you to start to show some humility.

There are a lot of reasons why your company may want you to start to become humble. One of the key reasons is because companies view a humble leader as being more willing to grow. This means that you need to be able to show that you can listen well to what your department is saying. Additionally, you need to be willing to admit it when you make a mistake or a bad decision. Finally, you need to realize that it’s not all about you and so this means that you have to be willing to share the limelight with other members of your team.

There is a new term that is being used to describe a humble CIO – “servant leader”. This is the model that allows the CIO to promote collaboration with other parts of the company. A CIO is someone who has successfully climbed the corporate ladder to reach this position and so it can be easier to say that they’ll be humble than to actually become humble. The one thing that you don’t want to engage in is aggressive self-promotion. If you make the decision to bypass the CEO and brag about what you’ve been able to accomplish to the board.

How To Be Humble

So, if you’ve decided that in order to further your CIO career, you are going to have to become humble, this then leads to the natural question: how do you go about doing this? It all starts with developing humble listening skills. You can determine how humble you currently are by keeping track of how many times you tell you IT team what to do instead of asking for their input.

It’s generally at this point that some CIOs start to get the clever idea that perhaps they can just fake this whole humble thing. However, it turns out that this can be a big career mistake. This so-called “faux humility” just ends up annoying the people that you work with. There is even a term for it: “humblebragging”. People can tell when your self-depreciating comments are really just boasts. Don’t think that you can just act humble – you either are or you are not.

A humble CIO is willing to take the blame when things go wrong. The humble CIO tells everyone that “the buck stops with me”. If a CIO can learn how to be humble, then this will end up promoting collaboration within the firm. You need to make sure that your team doesn’t see you as coming in with preconceived ideas. You need to be seen as allowing a full discussion of topics when a decision has to be made. The last thing that you want to have happen is for you to come across as being overconfident or unwilling to listen. Yes, as a CIO it is ok to have a strong ego however the secret is that you have to make sure that you don’t have a big ego.

What All Of This Means For You

A new model of leadership is starting to be promoted in many firms. Whereas CIOs have traditionally wanted to be viewed as strong, powerful leaders who were always right, the new model is now calling them to adopt a more humble demeanor. Now the question is how to go about doing this?

In the new environment in which we work, CIOs who are able to adopt to being humble will have a better chance of having their careers continue. One of the reasons for this is because companies view a humble leader as being more willing to grow. You no longer want to be seen as engaging in aggressive self-promotion. A humble CIO asks his or her team for their input more than telling them what to do. Trying to fake being humble is never a good idea because people will quickly see though it. Humble CIOs are willing to take the blame when things go wrong.

Becoming a humble CIO is not an easy thing to do. However the world has changed and this is what is now being expected of CIOs. This means that you are going to have to take the time to study what it means to be humble and start to change you ways. If you can accomplish this, you’ll be able to do a better job of leading your department and working with the rest of the company.

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

Question For You: Do you think the rest of the company any would respect you if you become more humble?

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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

The world of IT is often filled with buzz words that draw the attention of CIOs because of all of the discussions that surround these new words. Right now, “big data” is one such buzz word. that everyone is saying is critical to the importance of information technology. As a CIO you may have been attracted to what everyone says the benefits of using big data are. However, there’s a fundamental question that you are going to have to answer before you can find out what big data can do for your company: you need to find out how you start to use big data.