Friday, December 28, 2012

The CIO’s Five Leadership Traits

Being Authentic is Influential.

Like any other senior executives, CIOs have varies of personalities and unique leadership strength, no matter you are character-based leader or charismatic executive; a transformational strategist or a transactional manager, effective CIOs should share some common leadership traits, these traits of CIOs have a significant effect on culture, mood, motivation, aggressiveness, innovation, helpfulness, business mindset, creativity, tech depth, skills, emerging tech use, teaming, rate of change; more broadly, the CIO’s leadership influence will directly impact business, culture education, and society. To brainstorm more specifically, what is the right personality, personal attributes, and daily mode of operation a CIO must have to succeed with the people and staff within IT?

1. CIOs as Authentic Business Leaders

The spirit of business comes from the top, authenticity is important for CIOs and all leaders. A CIO just needs to be him/herself really. We're all different and unique human beings, so there's nothing to suggest we all have to be with the same personality. On the other hand, traits such as integrity, trustworthiness, and work ethics are traits that should exist in all professionals rather than just in the CIO.
  • The daily mode of operation should be WILLINGNESS: They are willing to engage organizational leadership and get buy-in on emerging technology and innovation, as well as engaging staff to impart your overall VISION and the importance of successfully completing projects and tasks on time and within budget. 
  • Being Authentic is influential: CIOs' influence is based on persuasive communication, via logic, analysis & synthesis, but being persuasive need be authentic, convincing and consistent. A CIO as an authentic leader will positively affect people and staff of IT through management style, work ethics, fairness, aggressiveness, forgiving, knowledge, efficiency, calm control, approachability, ability to succeed, & caring, using social media and technologies at work, and the relationship between IT and business.

2. CIOs as Insightful Strategists with Vision

Leadership is the ability to paint a picture of a better tomorrow. This might be the role of influencing the CEO to make the jump to new technology. This might be a role of getting a team to work longer, harder, more efficiently and/or more effectively than even that team thought possible
  • A Business Visionary: The impact the vision of a leader has on the environment in which they operate. This might be a role of effectively communicating organizational decisions, in a way which not only allows those decisions to be accepted but inspires teams to clearly see the picture of a better tomorrow. It may be providing the vision because of an intimate understanding of the business and communicating that vision in a way in which the picture becomes clear to those who can provide direction, funding and/or permission to execute the vision for the benefit of the organization. 
  • A Business Strategist: Understand your environment and playing field to develop a plan to harness the opportunities you identified. When the CIO is in charge of a forward-looking organization that needs/expects a lot from technology, the style of the CIO needs to be more of a strategic partner/vision designer. He/she needs to be a trusted partner to the business areas who understands the business and communicates well with others. 

3. CIOs as Empathetic Talent Masters

CIOs should also have deep mentoring capabilities - not just for the IT team, but for the organization. CIOs can also empower talent to achieve more. The CIO's personality should be engaging, whereby it provides purpose, direction, motivation, guidance, invokes thought, and calls the staff into action. If done properly, just get out of the way and allow your staff to WOW you with their creativity and energy.
  • A special accent in CIO leadership is the ability to inspire the team function: A good portion of the CIO's team is the hardcore IT guys or soft touch information gals, server/storage/ cloud /virtualization/network specialists or data/process/application designer/analyst/architect. A majority of the folks are introvert geeks living to a big part in the IT fancy land of bit & byte or the smart world of machine intelligence. And they need to be this way to be dedicated specialists in their trade. 
  • Talent Engagement: Where the CIO comes to play is to find a way how to lead gurus or geeks, how to build a team out of well shaped individuals, how to find a way to further shape the modern IT professionals as the corporation needs them; to inspire them not to burn out or get unmotivated, to make them leave their comfort shell and approach the users, the process ... the business. To look through the IT team and to see through the talents, that's what a must for a CIO that is right in the place to have the right talent in the bus.
  • Empower talent for cross-functional collaboration: It is important that the CIO spends the time to learn the dynamics of team culture and the organization where it is embedded most valuable for the CIO role and that is to know the teams, then he/she will be able to maximize the synergies and avoid duplication of efforts. CIOs can work more closely with HR & talent managers to provide a digital platform, empower talent for cross-functional collaboration. 

4. CIOs as Innovative Change Agents

Since the CIO is a senior level executive and often a member of the board, he/she needs to understand business and lead the key project to contribute to the business as well as drive the change in the business. The CIO needs to be intrapreneurial. He/she needs to be a business change agent who can move the company in a direction that will best identify the company.
  • Agile mindset and methodology to master complexity: CIOs should be very comfortable in dynamic situations, secure enough in the knowledge that they may not know EVERYTHING but would LOVE to know as much as they can (a constant learner), being learning agile & and adaptive, as IT leaders usually need to handle the double complexity of both business and technology, and engage talent into innovative conversation, produce fresh idea, and manage them to achieve business result.
  • Planning by nature of personality: CIOs maybe not so spontaneous when running a project or solving complex issues, always take step-wise action and be thoughtful when practice changes. Truly and totally know, understand and internalize the paradigm of IT as a service. As an innovator, the CIO's spontaneity comes from the freedom of choices as well as the flow of creativity. 

5.CIOs as Intrinsic Customer Champions

Modern CIOs not just serve internal users, but also make a digital impact at every touch point in the end customer experience. Thus, CIOs also need to be the intrinsic customer champion, to manage customer relationship based on the nature of customer and understand of need by putting customers’ shoes on.

  • Business Opportunist: Be willing to take the constructive criticism from customers, and turn the beating, lashing, and criticism into opportunities by demonstrating through the delivery of successful IT projects that not only benefit the business but gives you a sense of personal satisfaction.

  • Customer Empathy: CIOs should be familiar with both business and IT, understand both internal users and external customer, by taking advantage of analytic tools and social platforms, CIOs can master global customer dialects, listen smarter, not just harder, transform IT into the business catalyst and customer champion. 
As a CIO, one must practice leadership principle, possess a great work ethic, be comfortable with paradoxical thinking, be knowledgeable, be decisive, be a team builder, be respected, be available, be a negotiator, be an innovator, and always a student of emerging technology. The CIO/CTO also must recognize their own strengths and weaknesses and compensate for either a dose of personal education or by filling the gaps with the right personality mix.

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