Friday, September 22, 2017

Three Aspects to Groom a Unique CIO

Digital CIOs should have unique mindsets, skillsets, and even a unique title, become the top business leader to lead digital transformation smoothly.

CIO is the leadership role, every leader is unique, and thus, every CIO is unique. The leadership roles such as CIO need to share the unique point of view, to break down conventional wisdom and lead their organization up toward the next growth cycle and catalyze digital transformation with faster speed. Digital CIOs should have unique mindsets, skillsets, and even a unique title (not for the status quo, but for enforcing position influence), become the top business leader to lead digital transformation smoothly.
Unique mindset: First of all, unique CIOs have a unique mindset to become the transformative leaders to lead change smoothly. Unique CIOs are often outlier visionaries who are good at the perception of technology trend, or alternative business solutions. CIOs as the leadership role is not just for managing IT transactional activities, they need to be the business strategist who can continue gathering information, diagnose business or IT issues, be skeptical about conventional understanding of the problems so that they examine everything before accepting it for its real truth or advising it to others. Strategic thinking is also the "big picture" thinking to keep the end in mind, it's about where you are, where you want to be, identify the gap and create the alternate approaches to anticipate and provide solutions with a long-term perspective. A unique CIO is also good at creative thinking for running IT as an innovation engine of the business. Because IT is in a unique position to oversee the business, thus, IT leaders need to absorb the new knowledge across the business functional boundary in order to connect wider dots and work out with new ideas to achieve the business value. IT is an engineering discipline, thus, CIOs as IT leaders should also master at Systems Thinking which is the thought process to understand the interconnectivity between parts and whole. Systems Thinking advocates holism, interdisciplinarity, and versatility. Applying Systems thinking and understanding to the IT management is a good start point to build collaboration and transform IT from a support function into an integral part of the business and trust partner. A unique set of digital thinking help IT leaders think broader, deeper, use a longer-term frame, and take a holistic lens, to improve IT performance and maturity.

Unique skill set: Each of the senior managers has a different view of the job, what it will take to be successful, and how the goals are measured. The stereotypical CIOs are often perceived as technical geeks Because traditional CIOs come up through the ranks on the technical side. They spoke the completely different language from the business, and focus on HOW to get things done, the transactional piece of the tasks. But today's digital businesses have very high expectation about IT. Modern CIO is one of the most sophisticated leadership roles in businesses today because they have to wear multiple personas and adapt to changes all the time. Besides equipped with a unique set of digital thinking, CIOs have to build a full set of management skills and differentiated leadership capabilities. Due to change nature of technology, No matter where you are in IT, the world changes with accelerated speed, IT is in the middle of a sea change. CIOs need to have the capacity to learn, relearn, and adapt, spend more time figuring out the strategic WHY and the transformative perspective of IT digitalization. Being a unique CIO with differentiated competency means that the IT leader should close leadership and communication gaps via their niche skills, run IT as the business catalyzer via their management capacity, do more with innovation based on their leadership philosophy to tolerate risks, be experimental to try new things and ensuring IT is strategically positioned to be ahead of where the business is moving next.

Unique title: Like all digital leaders today, CIOs should discover WHO they are and WHY they want to lead. Although the title is not as essential as responsibility, the standard needs to be defined and the priority should be set. Because the title can often be misleading and situation-driven, many companies define the duties and functions of a CIO differently. WIth fast-growing information, there are multiple relevant titles cropped up such as Chief Data Officer, Chief Digitalization Officer, Chief Process Officer, Chief Customer Officer., etc. or at the larger enterprise, there are multiple people holding the CIO title. CIO is not the status quo, but the position power does help IT leaders amplify their leadership influence in the hierarchical business environment. With the criticality of information, many argue that the CIO title should be unique and should be held by the position that is really managing the "Information" within the corporation, having multiple people holding the title does water-down the position and causes confusion in the market and within the organization, or creates the new silo and add the more layers of bureaucracy. The scope of IT is broadening daily, social and environmental needs are increasingly driving the type of access people require. It’s now more relevant than ever to have a leader that will build feasible business-centric strategies, to keep the business ahead or at least in line with customer expectations. In terms of a title, an effective leader is included regardless of the title but by the contribution and feedbacks, which they can provide. Digital CIOs present leadership strength - confidence and being competent not only in IT but in business and even the digital ecosystem the organization operates within. The title of IT leader still vary, but every CIO is unique, every IT organization is unique and every business needs to have its own unique set of capabilities to compete for the future.  

Unique CIOs are developed inside out, starting with their innate ability to learn, groomed by the empowerment from the top business management. The focus of IT on business transformation is not about changing the title, but how to keep updating mindsets, skillsets. attitude, setting up the standard, to improve IT capability and maturity. CIOs should strengthen their leadership strength, apply their leadership philosophy, enforce their unique styles in order to lead effortlessly. Make sure IT is no longer just a commodity service provider, but a business differentiator.


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