Tuesday, October 9, 2018

The Multifaceted Digital CIOs

 It’s now more relevant than ever to have the versatile CIOs with “multi-faceted personas” to enforce IT influence across the digital ecosystem and practice the situational leadership accordingly.

Many organizations are at the strategic inflection point of the digital transformation, it is the broader and longer journey with many leaps and jumps, bumps and curves. IT plays a crucial role in knitting all important business elements into differentiated organizational competency. The pace of changes in IT would force more CIOs to shift into transformation-oriented and multifaceted digital leadership roles. Digital CIOs, are born to change, how they overcome the digital transformation challenges depends on their ability to think, adapt, proactively plan and execute, as well as their multifaceted leadership capacities.

The multifaceted perspectives: CIOs can no longer act as tactical managers only. A digital CIO's position has to reach out horizontally to their business peers. They are in a unique position to oversee the business from different angles so they can gain a multitude of business views to lead changes. It starts with building strong and value-creating relationships with C-suites, between IT and vendors or business partners, and build a strong team with a strong bench. At the age of IT consumerization, businesses need to understand not only the power and the opportunity information could bring in, but also the potential risks they might get exposed to. Digital CIOs need to sharpen the varying thinking skills such as critical thinking, analytical reasoning, as well as creative thinking, etc, they are the trustful partner in the inner circle to creating deeper insight into opportunities IT could do for the business. CIOs tend to have a unique overview of the organization that can only be an advantage because it makes possible for them to run a highly responsive IT and make IT more shared, integrated, flexible, reliable, and fast. A good relationship between business and IT becomes visible by clearly defining tasks, authorities, and responsibilities to manage both opportunities and risks accordingly. Digital CIOs ask good questions, good questions bring multifaceted business perspectives which help to analyze and solve complex business problems. After all, if you can’t see the entire painting, you’ll never know how big the frame needs to be.

The multitude of creativity: Thanks for the latest lightweight digital technologies, IT organizations are shifting from the monolithic industrial mode to mosaic digital style. There are very progressive organizations where IT sparks organizational creativity. Running digital IT is both science and art. One of the digital leadership capacities is to get people out of their comfort zone to meet challenges, learn new skills and unlock collective creativity. More specifically, “Business creativity” is to apply creative thinking for problem-solving for achieving business goals or making new products or services design for delighting customers. IT must be willing to take constructive criticism from customers and turn the beating, lashing, and criticism into opportunities to spark creative ideas. Creativity in design is uniquely challenging - in that the product of the creative expression must fit inside very strict constraints and needs to be done under (often) extreme pressures of time, cost and functionality. From IT leadership perspective, it is absolutely necessary for leaders to create discomfort and get others thinking differently. It is imperative to foster a creative environment in which people are encouraged to take risks, experiment with new ways to do things and challenge the status quo. It’s also important to develop the multi-dimensional competencies to formulate creative or unconventional solutions to resolve problems, to show versatility and flexibility in response to unpredictable or unanticipated circumstances.

The multidimensional leadership influence: The continuous technology evolution means CIOs should be empowered to lead changes and drive digital transformation proactively. Digital CIOs lead through influence, not through brute forces. The top CIOs today must have unique business insight and high level of influence on business changes. Managing information & technology is the business of the entire company. Thus, CIOs have to know both the business and the technology side of things in order to practice multidimensional leadership influence. You cannot know only one piece of the equation. CIOs need to build hardcore expertise and develop skills beyond technology, based on the understanding of their particular organization's strategic planning, current and potential corporate structure, senior management style, and business strength. It means that the CIO’s niche leadership is based on the strategic mindset, multifaceted knowledge, and business understanding, as well as anticipated leadership styles. The degree of leadership influence is much more complex than the leader’s title or personality. They need to practice expert power in today’s knowledge economy, how they influence is also dependent on the active coping mechanisms that they use to survive and thrive in a given set of living conditions.

Digital CIO leadership is multifaceted. Every CIO is different and whatever the management team needs or wants at the time out of the CIO will also be different, and by type of business needs will be different. It’s whether you can be what is needed at the time and execute to those expectations. It’s now more relevant than ever to have the versatile CIOs with “multi-faceted personas” to enforce IT influence across the digital ecosystem and practice the situational leadership accordingly.


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