Sunday, January 14, 2018

The New Book “12 CIO Personas” Chapter 12 Introduction: The CIO as “Chief Influence Officer”

Good leaders are continually practicing, experiencing, learning, reflecting, adjusting,  both "walk the talk and talk the walk," to be fluent in mastering leadership influencing via their own leadership strength and unique style.

Contemporary CIOs face many leadership dilemmas: Being sustainable or disrupt? Keep the status quo or being innovative? Act as a business executive or an IT manager? Traditional CIOs have been perceived as tactical IT managers, running IT as a support function to keep the lights on. Digital CIOs today must develop their leadership competency to make multidimensional influence across the organization and the digital ecosystem. There are many personas for digital CIOs today, one of the most pertinent ones is “Chief Influence Officer,” who develops influential competence to amplify leadership effect and master both business understanding and technical knowledge to practice expert power.

The multitude of digital CIO influences: The CIO role by nature is fraught with paradox. The CIO needs to be both business strategist and IT manager; innovator and cost-cutter; visionary and hands-on manager. IT now is considered a driver of a company’s growth strategy rather than just the “keeping the lights on” support function. As a result, CIOs now have more accountability and visibility than ever before. They should make the strategic influence on key business decisions, as IT strategy and the “art of the possible” in technology influence the development of the business strategy. IT would reduce risks of surprise disruptions and better involve in bolstering competitive advantage. Digital is the age of innovation. Innovation is the execution of new ideas that create business value. And technology is often the engine of innovation. Thus, CIOs also have to practice innovation influence via envisioning and sharing technological visions, refine information to capture the business insight of growth opportunities or customer insight. In the face of the digital new normal, the only thing wise CIOs have to influence is to persuade the business about the potential cost of the current situation and benefits of the business solutions. IT can also make an influence on modern businesses’ culture and talent strategy via information-based reasoning and tangible measurement. Overall speaking, CIOs should play position influence, expertise influence, and social influence to improve their leadership effectiveness. High mature CIOs are high influencers through their breadth of business knowledge and the depth of IT insight.

The daily grinding of leadership development: The CIO is the leadership role, not just a management job. Leadership is not a setting-hour work, but a continuous self-awareness, self-motivation, and self-mastery journey. CIOs should spend time on developing self and others, set a strong leadership tone to build the culture of learning and innovation in their organization. Only a CIO who is proactively learning every day, empowered or trained via tailored approaches by the organizations, can make things happen and fulfill the expectation of his/her organization. It is also important for CIOs to have open door time for people to come and discuss any challenges, share innovative ideas, brainstorm varying solutions to business problems. For those IT leaders who move up the IT ranks will need to have the inherent knowledge of the business in order to become the well-rounded leadership role to succeed as a top business executive.

The recipe for highly influential digital IT leadership: Digital CIOs should have their own unique leadership voice based on their differentiated leadership competency. The multitude of leadership competency includes courage, temperance, openness, adaptability, emotional excellence, sound judgment, creativity, inclusiveness, etc. and a set of leadership skills such as persuasion, motivation, decision-making, interpersonal communication, conflict management, and finally conceptual understanding skills, etc. The effective digital leaders are both confident and humble, they don’t care about others think about them to feel valued, but strongly believe in themselves; they have no problem to lend empowerment, encourage people to grow, improve, and innovate. Also, CIOs have to learn new ways to do the things or the trends that may not be known to you before. The world is moving so fast, remember you can always change the tone of an old song, rearrange and make it better. There is no secret recipe for digital leadership, every CIO must both "walk the talk and talk the walk," to be fluent in mastering leadership influencing via their own leadership strength and unique style.

Leadership is influence and practice. Good leaders are continually practicing, experiencing, learning, reflecting, adjusting, and they understand that the ultimate mastery of leadership does not exist. The path to mastery is something that unfolds day by day. CIOs just have to manage their time wisely and lead profoundly.


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