Saturday, December 22, 2018

The Attributes of Being Digital CIO (Part II)

The digital world is so technology-driven and information-intensive, technology needs will only expand, and most likely expand hyperbolically. It is important to understand the dynamic role of IT leadership with clarity. Because the limitation of the CIO role is often the root cause of business failure in the long run. The digital CIOs are in demand to “disrupt,” inspire, innovate, and accelerate digital transformation. Here is a set of attributes of being a digital CIO.

Proactivity: Traditional CIOs often react to changes and take the orders from the business. To respond to the fast-paced changes and keep IT relevant, the CIO needs to be acutely in tune with the business. The CIO must be totally involved and participate in key decisions of upper management and be proactive so there are no surprises when decisions are made. The CIO has to help in planning the budgets, predict the business trends, manage resources, know financial and resource requirements, understand the constraints and walk through these issues thoroughly. A good relationship between business and IT becomes visible by clearly defining tasks, authorities, and responsibilities. The proactive IT leaders and sponsors attend business reviews with the various business stakeholders in attendance. They also invite those business stakeholders to their IT forums. CIOs' proactive attitude in trying new things shouldn’t get confused with spontaneity or do things without a plan. All their leadership efforts and management disciplines need to take the stepwise approach.

Learning agility: Due to the frequent knowledge update and technology-led disruptions, IT leaders and professionals must be learning agile, with the capacity to learn, relearn, and adapt all the time. Digital leaders like CIOs must learn how to strike the right balance between managing complex issues today and being able to forecast the uncertain issues of tomorrow. It’s important for IT to both keep the lights on and transform the business for the long term. Thus, having learning curve awareness is the prerequisite step before change can take place. CIOs should become the continuous learner, with an ear and an eye to innovations and business benefits from learning and discussions. They should also encourage those they guide to seek ongoing experiences and knowledge, and then, you will certainly grow a team that can drive your organization to great heights. Most importantly, this leads to a great environment to work in and to build the culture of learning and creativity.

Risk tolerance: Organizations no matter large or small, all face the unprecedented change, uncertainty, velocity, and accelerated business dynamic. The heart of digital is about changes and innovation, to run a change agent IT and an innovative IT organization, the more difficult challenge is not just launching successful teams, but maintaining their motivation and focus, cultivate the positive attitude and build a culture of risk tolerance. The biggest source of innovation within a company is built on culture - the collective mindset, attitude, and behavior. Innovative CIOs have bold visions, the entrepreneur’s spirit, and explain the big “whys” clearly. They can articulate the strategic rationale behind the venture, discover the new path for digital transformation and balance innovation with other organizational priorities. They are not only self-motivated but also motivate teams to cultivate change capabilities and continue to improve.

Mentorship: To improve leadership maturity, digital CIOs should also transform their leadership style from “command & control” to coaching and mentoring. Great leadership includes mentoring capability, and an excellent mentorship is both art and science. The coach/mentor style CIOs encourage people to work with them, not for them. They can show the team how to explore their own natural skill sets, talents, and strong sides, take into account their own objectives in line with working needs. By mentoring you are showing that you value others, and in order to add value to others, you need to hold people in high regards, not only for who they are but for the potential that lies inside of them, and encourage them to pursue self-discovery, purpose, and mastering. Leadership is about the future. A well established mentoring process is invaluable for an organization to develop its next-generational leaders and for the current leadership to stay attuned to the realities of their ecosystem.

The multi-faceted personas:
Digital CIOs have multifaceted roles to play. They need to be the business strategist, digital visionary; customer advocate, talent master; process overseer and governance champion. They are also the innovative leader to drive the business’s digital transformation with multi-dialect digital fluency. The digital CIOs are in a unique position to not only ensure they communicate with empathy but also to streamline the organization’s digital communication channel and delivery. They need to become digital ambassadors for sharing the technological vision and be able to communicate with other business executives to demonstrate IT capabilities as a strategic enabler of the company. They must be able to translate business issues and technical matters back and forth without “lost in translation.”

CIO is the leadership role, and leadership is about future and direction. Every leader is unique, and thus, every CIO is unique. The role of CIO is the mirror of the business reputation - an innovator or a plumber; a strategist or an operator; a change agent or a controller, etc. They should build their differentiated leadership competency, share the unique point of view, break down conventional wisdom and lead their organization up toward the next growth cycle and catalyze digital transformation.


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