Tuesday, July 31, 2018

The Digital CIO’s Self-Reflection to Thrive as the Great Leader

There is a distinct difference between a great CIO and an average CIO in terms of identifying and implementing competitive advantages and being a high business influencer. 

Change is the new normal with rapid pace, information is growing overwhelmingly, and complexity has increased exponentially. IT plays a critical role in leading change, driving innovation, and running a high-performance digital business today. The digital CIO is not a static management position, but a dynamic leadership role. The success of IT leadership has to do with the definitions or scope of the role that the CIO is playing. Digital CIOs should make an objective assessment of their work, and do some self-reflection on who they are as the leader and how they can lead IT organization forward successfully for the long run.

Are you an IT specialist or a business strategist? The traditional IT leader rising from IT rank is often the IT specialist who has the technical know-how, but sometimes lack the entire business picture for reinventing IT as the growth engine of the company. The best digital CIOs should always have an in-depth understanding of what the business does, how it does it, and how it could be better with the 360 degrees of the business view needs to break out of the service provider mindset and see itself as a center of value creation. CIOs should be excellent at articulating the benefits of making changes to the business’s operating model, and showing how IT can make these change happening with persuasive data. If CIOs can identify and propose business development and improvement ideas on the regular basis, that would absolutely help to build trustful IT-business relationship and build IT reputation as the strategic business partner. When IT organizations think only from the technical aspect, not from ultimate business goal perspectives, they have almost inevitably driven against the pitfalls. The best CIOs need to cover both the business dimension and technology dimension with their team, as well as what current technology and the growth of information can add business value and enforce the business innovation.

Are you empowered or isolated by fellow business executives? Nowadays, the business attitude to IT and CIO often depends on the level of the organizational maturity. The forward-looking businesses across the industries empower their CIOs to lead digitalization and shape IT as the change agent organization. However, in reality, most organizations still consider IT as the support center and IT is normally treated as the cost. There is a big reluctance to involve IT leaders in developing business strategies to consider the digital or technical resource. IT often becomes the second thought, that will cause business failures and lose the competitive advantage for the mid and long run. With continuous digital disruptions usually driven by technology, the foresightful organizations must empower their CIOs and engage them in the core business agenda and strategy planning. It is at the tipping point for businesses to see IT as an asset, capital and the significant source of competitive advantage. IT in those organizations perceive their role progressively as the business soluionary, innovation hub, and even the game changer.


Are you a stereotypical manager or a creative digital leader? The stereotypical IT leadership/ management roles often enforce the status quo and command & control style management practice and further enlarges the gap between IT and the business. To break down the traditional silo or overly restricted hierarchy, 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 the CIO's performance and results. Digital CIOs need to be the creative digital leader, relentless change agent, and fit the title as the “Chief Influence Officer.” IT is the linchpin of weaving all important business elements into organizational competency; it can also provide a seamless digital platform for idea sharing and collaboration. The culture of learning fosters openness, information sharing, critical and independent thinking. Thus, IT leaders play a crucial role in developing the learning and continuous improvement culture by taking the structural approach. It involves gathering data, analysis, defining areas to be improved and taking a measurement scale. The organization’s learning culture is the basis of the company diversification, innovation, performance, outlining the types of duties assigned to perform with the requirement of job details, and it takes the efficient tools and technology, as well as highly innovative and intelligent methodology to achieve digital workforce success.


There is a distinct difference between a great CIO and an average CIO in terms of identifying and implementing competitive advantages and being a high business influencer through their clear vision, intellectual voice and exemplary leadership behavior. Keep in mind IT is about the information and innovation, focus on being a solution-driven organization and a digital engine to manage a seamless digital transformation.

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