Be Proactive: The CIO needs to start thinking and acting like a member of the Board and to reshape IT to become an integral component of the business. Position IT as a profit-making center rather than a cost sink. Be an active member of the top Executive by refining IT as the enabler of the next evolution of the business. Anticipate the next horizon for the company, sell it and then make it happen. Remember that knowledge is power and as the CIO you have the most influential position in the business. Don’t waste the opportunity, seize it. In addition, if the CIO can see beyond the confines of his/her own function by understanding all the moving parts of the business and contribute to the overall improvement of the greater machine then this is the true proactive contribution. Learn to recognize the key influencers in the organization, understand what and who they are, build relationships at that level and then consider how you can help to influence and drive change in those areas.
Be Progressive: CIOs should be part of the top management team providing his/her inputs on the business strategies and decisions and their impact. CIOs managing technology and business landscape get an amazing 360-degree view of the business, processes, and challenges required to integrate the organization together. With a progressive mindset, someone who understands business and IT implications can be a successful CIO instead of an IT guy lost in technology not able to relate to IT to business. CIOs are also a rare breed to be good at both analytic and synthetic thinking. As with structured and unstructured thinking, synthesis and analysis, or science and policy analysis, most people are good at one or the other but few are good at both. The biggest factor in how any individual can be proactive or progressive is the individual, a job title or reporting structure does not qualify anybody to be anything. The environment in which a CIO operates can certainly influence the level of contribution they are capable of making. However, it is wrong to think that an organizational hierarchy in itself can be an answer to the problem. A progressive CIO indeed needs to break down the silo and mind the gaps.
Be Innovative: CIOs generally have greater opportunities to stand out and take leadership in driving innovation across their companies. Though every executive should make their voice heard on this front, have an opportunity and responsibility to participate in the innovation dialog and to come up with innovative ideas, most of the functions can make process innovation within their division, IT, on the other hand, has much more of an opportunity to enable incremental top-line and bottom-line value across the business, not just within IT. The other key factor for every IT manager is being keen on exploring new technologies and new markets. Make new rules like open doors, no fears to propose something completely new in loud among team members can be applied to CIOs as well. In many cases when great ideas came from mid-level non-management people. They just have to be heard and deployed.
CIOs have to become a continuous learner: Simply being an active member of forums and other collaborative networks with an ear and an eye to innovations and business benefits from learning and discussions. If CIOs similarly encourage those they guide to also seek ongoing experience and knowledge, then you will certainly grow a team that can drive your organization to great heights, reduced costs and leaps in innovation and productivity, etc. Most importantly, this leads to a great environment to work in and to build future CIOs that will also remain informed and prepared to share their learning.
Being innovative, progressive and proactive, that’s the leadership trait to make CIOs more effective and influential.