Sunday, February 12, 2017

CIOs’ Three Personas to Enforce Leadership Influence

When CIOs climb the upward leadership maturity path, and then their IT organizations will also move up to unleash the full digital potential and achieve a high-performance result.

Due to the changing nature of digital, the omnipresence of technology and the exponential growth of information, IT plays a crucial role in leading changes and driving digital transformations. The IT leadership role also continues to be re-imagined, refined, refreshed, and re-energized. Today’s CIOs have multiple roles to play and take broader leadership responsibilities in transforming their organizations. Here are three digital personas for CIOs to enforce their leadership influence.

CIOs as “Chief Inquisitiveness Officer”: Traditional IT organizations were run as an isolated function non-IT leaders are lack of interest to understand further, and IT leaders are perceived as technique geeks who speak different languages and only take the order from the business, without the seat at the big table. In order to bridge the gap between IT and business, digital CIOs need to become “Chief Inquisitiveness Officer,” and “Chief Interaction Officer,” to ask tough questions and enforce IT-business communication. Because many times, you have to break down the status quo and break through the conventional wisdom, to keep informative and inquisitive. Asking the right questions for ensuring doing the right things before doing things right is particularly critical for bridging IT-business gaps and improving organizational effectiveness and maturity. During the leadership interaction, disagreements will arise naturally. So asking questions means you truly want to know the answers and there is a certain honesty about it which propels you forward as a leader. The inquisitive leaders not only ask deep “WHY”s to diagnose the root cause of problems but also ask the positive “WHY NOT” to spur creativity. They ask “What if we do things in a new way,” or, “How can I make things better for the whole?” Great IT leaders are great thinkers and visionaries, they will always ask questions to people around them, customers, business partners, get views of everybody, learn about the subject when necessary and then leverage their leadership qualities to resolve the situation in a better way.

CIOs as “Chief Information Officer”: Back to basic, CIOs are Chief Information Officer, and digital CIOs are information master. IT is the steward of business data & information. Data by itself is meaningless until it’s interpreted and analyzed. IT plays the critical role in information life cycle management to transform raw data - information - insight/intelligence - wisdom. As digital technologies mature and IT becomes better understood by most of the enterprises, information will become more valuable, and it will become a digital business capability IT can build on. CIOs need to focus on the information content and context; how that information can be tapped from the underlying data and be utilized to turn it into valuable strategic insight, how the information and insight can be penetrated through the business and be actively used in managing business processes and shaping the business capabilities to execute business strategy solidly. Today, CIOs are not just managing IT to keep the lights on but they are managing the information to enable enterprises to become nimble and gain the competitive edge.

CIOs as Chief Innovation Officer: CIOs as Chief Innovation Officer are one of the most needed personas of digital CIOs. Innovation is about thinking differently, acting differently, delivering differently, adding value differently. The new IT digital playbook isn't for the faint of heart. CIOs need to rise above the status quo and take on a new set of activities that have them involved in the strategy development process from the get-go. Though every executive should have an opportunity and responsibility to participate in the innovation dialog and to come up with innovative ideas. IT, on the other hand, has much more of opportunities to enable incremental top-line and bottom-line value across the business, not just within IT, but across the business scope. In many organizations, IT is the custodian of solutions and data assets that can be applied in new and different ways to generate massive business value that far exceeds what other functions can incrementally bring to the table. CIOs need to become innovators, as opposed to outside the box, altering or changing the frame of reference to create previously unconsidered solutions, to run IT as an innovation hub, to equip people with the latest technology  and needed information, to make the right decision at every level, and to capture insight and foresight for the future of business.

Digital CIOs have multiple personas. When CIOs climb the upward leadership maturity path, and then their IT organizations will also move up to unleash the full digital potential and achieve a high-performance result. It will directly drive the business’s overall capabilities to compete for the long-term growth, and elevate the overall business maturity to the higher level.


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