Friday, April 20, 2018

CIOs as “Chief Interaction Officer”: How to Master Different Dialogues to Enforce Communication

CIOs need to be comfortable in communicating at all levels, master all styles of conversations for targeting a different audience to develop situational leadership and influential competency.

Digital CIOs are “Chief Interpretation Officers,” “Chief Interaction Officers,” and “Chief Influence Officers,” today, etc. They are able to initiate communication in the different level of the organization with clarity. There are different types of dialogues. Each kind of dialogue has its context or "initial situation," the participant's goal, or the goals of the dialogue. Digital CIOs need to be excellent communicators, who are business aware and only finally, technically aware, translate from one conversation to the other seamlessly. But more specifically, how can CIO master different dialogues to enforce communication and leadership effectiveness?

Strategic dialogue:
Digital CIOs are business strategists who need to be good at strategic conversations. The CIO needs to develop skills beyond technology, based on the understanding of their particular organization's current and potential corporate structure, strategic plan, senior management style, staff size, etc. They need to convey the technological vision and participate in strategy-making, IT strategy is an integral component of the business strategy. If the corporate leadership is not open and receptive to technical innovation, and not accustomed to engaging the CIO in corporate strategic planning, and then it could be challenging for catalyzing business growth and accelerating digital transformation. As a top business leader, CIOs need to develop a broad skillset beyond technology. Coupled with the ability to understand, translate and speak “tech-talk.” Among other skills, they need strong business orientation and a proven ability to bring the benefits of IT to solve business issues. CIOs must be able to relay complex technical ideas in a non-technical manner to business leaders, understand their environment and playing field to develop a plan to harness the identified opportunities. They are responsible for making sure that IT meets the business requirements, works as the strategic partner of the business via smooth communication and cross-functional collaboration. Generally speaking, more right brainers or whole-brainers are needed; they need to be a good judge of character, to communicate creatively and candidly. They need to be independent of the subject but bring outside-in view and business perspectives without getting stuck in too narrowly lens.

Trust enhancement dialogue: The absolute No#1 non-technical skill for CIOs is the ability to speak the language of business. IT needs to transform the reputation from a “controller” to an enabler. IT leaders should build peer to peer trustful executive relationships, experiments more creative common language to communicate, in order to bridge the gap between business talks and IT talks via using the common business language. IT needs to forge a mature adult relationship with business users, since today’s multi-generational knowledge workforce, from baby boomer to millennial, overall are becoming much savvier about the wide range of technology than IT managers give credit for. It is essential that the person communicating should also be equally aware of what he/she wants to communicate, how he/she communicates and above all ensure that he/she has communicated correctly. Also, ensuring that you are using a respectful tone in delivering the message to the individual is important. Respect in any situation goes a long way in getting your message across, to amplify leadership influence without "lost in translation."


Technical dialogue: As the professional IT manager, the CIO has to be flexible, adaptable, and able to adjust the lingo to suit the audience; sometimes soften it up and drop the technical jargon, other times diving into the bits and bytes level. To be the most effective leader, you need to display the hard tech skills and knowledge, but more importantly, you need to be welcomed and invited to the table, be able to convey the technological vision, listen and translate business needs into actionable states. The IT team needs to be able to trust the CIO and the CIO needs to understand them intellectually to be able to lead them. The solid IT expertise allow CIOs to practice empathetic leadership in IT, even the CIO does not need to be technically directly involved, but a technical background is good to have to be able to manage the team. It is about striking a balance of leadership, management, and technical expertise/IT skills in order to be good at technical dialogue without “getting lost in details.”


We dialogue when we communicate. Each type of dialogue has its proper use. Communication is much more complicated because there are differences in goals and contexts. These contexts can shift. In natural conversation, we can shift these goals and contexts. As we move from using technology as a vehicle to maximize efficiency and minimize costs to using technology as an enabler and catalyzer of totally new business models. CIOs need to be comfortable in communicating at all levels, master all styles of conversations for targeting a different audience to develop situational leadership and influential competency.



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