Sunday, September 16, 2012

The Leadership/Skill Traits Future of CEO & CIO Should Share

Both digital CIOs and CEOs are great contemporary practitioners in strategic thinking, governance, relationship building, and talent management & board interactions.

There’s an interesting debate recently spurred in the CIO forum: should more CIOs aspire to become CEOs? It attracts varies thoughts and comments: on one side, most of CIOs today are still acting as underdog infrastructure IT managers, lack of breadth & depth of business insight to be perceived as business leader; on the other hand, a significant majority of CIOs don’t aspire to become CEOs, not necessarily mean CIOs lack of ambition, more because, in our society, the CEO is also a controversial role, we do have few inspiring CEOs around, however, the CEO is not always a good role model, sometimes they turn to be victims of scandal, or entertainers of political play., etc, CIOs may feel they are not so "thick-skinned" enough to be CEOs.

Though we’ve already brainstormed about the future of leadership trends; and key ingredients in contemporary leadership earlier, here, we intend to generalize leadership essentials, and specialize leadership authenticity again, what're the characteristics of effective leadership, besides detailed responsibility, What are some common elements or traits great CEO & CIO leadership share in common, will CIO be the step stone to CEO in the future?

1. Have the Vision to make Decisions & Have the Courage to "BREAK THE RULE" 

  • Effective Decision Making: The role of a CEO is predominately in the confines of decision making, and a CIO is a better candidate to advance an organization since he/she has an eagle view of what will work for an organization outside its parameters via business information asset, and they are not narrow-minded in decision making which can help well connect the dots and better collect key information to make decision-making processes open and highly consultative.
  • Courage to “Break The Rule”: Senior leaders play a critical role in governance such as enforcing policy setting and rules making in enterprise & industry or global economy; at today’s business dynamic. Innovative CEOs or CIOs should also have the courage to “break the rule”- those invisible rules cause career ceiling or the intangible barriers to hurt humanity,  in order to inspire creative thinking, the new way to do things and transform business culture. The true transformational CIO needs to play a significant part of CEO role, even with highly insightful understanding of business, customers, talent, based on information asset which CIOs steward for, because most of the times, technology leads creative destruction in many industries; the inspiring leaders take courage, creativity, confidence, curiosity, and communication, we can learn from those crazy ones--the astronaut, the entrepreneur, the veteran, the polyglot, the Olympian., etc

2.  Thought leaders by In-depth Communication

  • Leadership is Influence: Leadership at digital era requires brilliant mind, open heart, and in-depth communication skills, as leadership is influence, and your social influence more depend on your digital footprint about who you are from both your heart and mind, than your social status; command-control style leadership is no longer sufficient, leaders need to communicate deeper with empathy. The great leadership influence comes from persistence, self-control, curiosity, conscientiousness, grit, and self-confidence.
  • Chief Empathy/Enchantment Officer vs. Chief Influence/Interpreter Officer: If CEOs are Chief Empathy/Enchantment Officer, then CIOs are Chief Influence/Interpreter Officer, they need to influence end customers, shareholders, business-ecosystems, they need to be wise and nice, with sharpness and openness, be the coach and learner at the same time, their depths of communication come from character, wisdom and intellectual cognition, and bring more value for business, be a polyglot to master the languages in whole business & ecosystem.  

3. The Balance Between Leadership & Management 

  • Leadership vs. Management: Management is about how to manage business efficiency-doing things right, but leadership is to ensure business effectiveness-doing right things, they do have overlap, leadership is more about influence, management is more about facilitation, leadership is to inspire alliance, and management is to avoid chaos. Best CEO & CIO should well-mix leadership & management skills to deliver better business performance.
  • Chief Transformation Officer: In leading change, the Leaders such as CEOs or CIOs should act as Chief Transformation Officer, Warren Bennis said, “Management is getting people to do what needs to be done. Leadership is getting people to want to do what needs to be done.”  Managers push. Leaders pull. Managers command. Leaders communicate. Ultimately, we need to find the balance between the two, no matter how difficult it seems, building lasting relationships, creating a productive and inviting atmosphere, and ensuring that the necessary tasks are being completed 
  • Wisdom vs. Experience: The Wise Influencer knows what to do with what she knows and uses that knowledge to add value to her organization. There’s a difference between wisdom and experience. Wisdom teaches the lesson before the decision. Experience teaches the lesson after.

 4. The Generalist with a strong understanding of the context

  • Business Generalist: The role of CEOs demand more comprehensive skills in leadership, strategic thinking, relationship building and management, crisis management and public relations, in addition to finance, sales & marketing, HR;  similarly, the modern CIO position requires a working knowledge of operations, marketing, sales/marketing, finance, and customer support; as IT is so pervasive, permeating into whole enterprise and interact with the aforementioned areas of an organization with any frequency; A CIO is a subject expert and Chief advocate of INFORMATION, which means he/she is an effective organ to drive the business change in today’s world.
  • Heart & Mind of Business: If the CEO is more about the public face of business, then the CIO is the heart of an organization. The CIO must also be a diplomat, a technical visionary, a financial wizard, an operational wunderkind, and a salesperson par excellence. In short, a wide combination of skills is essential in the makeup of the modern CIO. Be curious to all knowledge in various important areas, have a strong desire to learn, succeed and connect with people and master as much skills as possible to move beyond your comfort zone, become a true C-level business partner and develop all capabilities to serve in a CEO role.

 5. The Strategist Know How to market 

How to Promote Business/IT: CEO-like CIO is a "Super-CIO" - an IT leader who participates in the C and board-level discussions - so that there was a perceived position for IT in steering the business direction and a growth path for CINO to become a CIO and benefit both IT and the business. The CIO does need to master at promoting IT, as an innovation engine, as a business catalyst, as a profession, and as an advocate to inspire STEM education. 

    • How to Promote Business Ideas/Brand: Influence over others, including regularly selling ideas and, in turn, gaining acceptance and prompting others to help carry out those ideas, CIOs should be promoted to CEOs, if and only if they have a grasp of what the business entails–having been CIO for a number of years matter less, it’s rather the diverse range of experience and know-how one has about a business, and how that person can continue to create, retain, or add value to sustain a business year in and year out.

     6. Talent & Culture Master

    • Business Culture Change Agent: If CEO is an “official” owner of business culture, then CIO is the biggest culture influencer, as the CIO is at unique position to well integrate technology, process and people in driving culture transformation business needs; All those magic “I”s in the CIO title: Innovation, Insight, Influence, Improvement, Integration, Intelligence, Intrapreneurship, Infrasture, Inspiration., etc. perceive CIOs as change agents;
    • Shaping Global Mindset: We have many global companies in the US, however, there are very few authentic global leaders. We need global leaders at CEO, the CIO, and all senior leadership positions to deal with the level of complexity to “leverage its fundamental forces to have a positive impact” in the hyper-connected, interdependent global economy. Global Mindset is the worldview that looks at problems or issues in such a way that a solution emerges through a collaborative multicultural approach involving global psychological capital, intellectual capital, and global social capital. Being “Global” involves a personal intention to focus on being global. Companies don’t exist in silos but within systems, especially global ones. Being global is about crossing not just borders but also cultural divides between business, government, and social sectors.

    7. The Customer Champion, The Process Warrior 

    • Process and information are two sides of the Same Coin: Both CEOs & CIOs need to master business processes, as the process underpins business capability, and business capability decides how strategy gets executed. For CIOs who aspire to be CEOs, the barriers could be overcome by being exposed to the business as a whole, understand the end to end business processes,  learn the value proposition of the business, create, retain, and expand that value for the business holistically.
    • Innovation means more about process: At most of the companies, CEOs are advocates of innovation, via reputable industry survey, now, more CIOs have been officially “promoted” as Chief Innovation Officer in business, as innovation is the only light all businesses, large or small pursuit now, the point is: today's IT is neither commodity nor luxury, it's business differentiator, the engine for business growth and headquarter of business digitalization & transformation. 
    • Customer Champion: What both CEOs & CIOs and all senior leadership team care is the Big “C” word: CUSTOMER, how to build up an untethered, customer-centric business is key to compete at the age of digitalization, it’s about superior customer experience, faster delivery, cost optimization, and operational excellence.            
    In Conclusion, should CIOs have equal opportunities like other C-Suite to be promoted into the CEO role? From the majority of responses in the discussion thread, the answer is yes, as at many traditional organizations, the CIO's role may get stereotyped as IT manager, rather than a business leader who is a good practitioner in strategic thinking, governance, relationship building, and talent management & board interaction. if CIOs are really good at a few C words such as the customer (both end customer and internal customer), capability, and change., etc, they should have potential to become the CEO, even the very best one.


    These are the best tips which I have ever found,really very helpful to grow business!!

    thanks for comment, no matter business large or small, especially those CIOs at large ship, business-oriented CIO/IT is more critical to move ship toward the right direction. thanks.

    I truly like to reading your post. Thank you so much for taking the time to share such a nice information. I'll definitely add this great post in my article section.
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