Sunday, August 31, 2014

The CIO’s Personality profile

Modern CIOs have enriched personas and unique personalities. 

Modern CIOs wear multiple hats and take different roles, they need to be both business strategist and IT manager; customer champion and talent master, so is there a desired “personality profile” for CIOs?

Leadership is an important part of the making up of a CIO. Can you make the influence on the corporate culture, what are your leadership substance and style, are you self-aware? There is a major difference between managers and leaders; CIO's should be leaders.... In addition, depending on the company and role, if the role is customer facing personality and ease of getting on with people is paramount. Technical knowledge is respected, but when that is coupled with an engaging personality it is a winning combination.

The CIO should be a change agent. Most of the times, being a perfect fit for the corporate culture is not the best thing, just the best recipe for corporate stiffness, that will further limit CIO's performance and results. CIO needs to be a change agent who can influence the culture in the proactive and positive way. The substance of leadership is an influence. As for leadership style, that shouldn't be universal, rather, it should be unique, flexible and adaptive as every person is special, and every authentic leader has his/her own strength and uniqueness, and, therefore, one leadership style will not make it. In the context of changes that a leader has to be able to lead; the CIO should be assessed on leader personality and leadership substance, not just leading style...

Personality Test does not measure tenacity and insight. Good personality testing covers critical thinking, problem-solving, handling pressure, creativity, innovation, inventiveness and communications. There is very little concrete evidence for predicting business success via personality tests and even less for evidence that people fit neatly into any of the hundreds of potential categories out there. One big drawback is, of course, they normally ask you how you think you would respond to a situation rather than asking others what they have actually seen you regularly do when faced with those situations. Testing is intended to be biased towards a desired personality type and skill set. Unfortunately, you cannot teach everything needed to succeed in high-pressure situations and first-time evolution. It is also difficult to measure transferable skills and cross-industry innovation - especially when there is a natural bias to select exactly what you need today (status quo) vs. skills needed to change for the better tomorrow. Consider the test more of a stereotype tool to assess the psychological preferences in how CIOs would perceive the ecosystem and make decisions. These tools (regardless of the pre-conceived merits) should not be used on its own, but as a set of criteria to determine a match for the role.

Paradox: On one side, CIOs are the Chief Innovation Officer, who can leverage the latest technology tools to catalyze business innovation; on the other side, CIOs must work closely with PR and Human Resources to investigate employee concerns about breach of protocol and other suspicious activities. They must inspect the policies and management of the various teams to balance the governance discipline and innovation practice. So, from these aspects we see CIOs must be reliable, fast-acting, thoughtful, learning agile, approachable, and trustworthy (especially with complaints). He/she must be far more diplomatic because he/she will be often caught in the middle of what people want to do, and what the policies and rules allow them to do. Also, as he/she has the power to change the rules, he/she will be under considerable pressure to make exceptions and end rules at times. So, he/she must have a strong personality and a clear idea of what needs to be done, yet creative enough to not hold the company back from growth.

Culture, personality, technical prowess are all important. When identifying and selecting C-level leadership candidates for positions such as CIO roles, a critic and basic fundamental core requirement which is often overlooked and compromised along the way is the individuals personal core values such as Integrity,  learning agility, trustworthiness etc. These are basic simple principles that you will find in outstanding successful leaders.

Every CIO may have his/her own unique personality, but as an effective leader, he/she shall master of multi-dimensional thinking - strategic thinking, system thinking, complexity thinking and creative thinking. etc, he/she shall embrace the very rich personas of the modern CIO, being both the business leader and digital technologist; the visionary and change agent, the innovator and governance practitioner…and beyond.


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