Tuesday, December 4, 2018

The CIO as “Chief Influence Officer”: How to Calibrate Your Impact

Digital CIOs lead through influence, not through command & control. 

Organizations of the future are increasingly exhibiting digital characteristics in various shades, colors, extensiveness, and intensity. IT is the linchpin of running a digital business. The modern CIOs play a crucial role in driving changes and leading digitalization. The degree of leadership influence is much more complex than the leader’s title or personality. Highly effective CIOs are independent thinkers, unbiased communicators, flexible managers, and relentless change agents.
They need to have the ability to “calibrate their impact,” being able to lead through influence, not by brute forces.

Digital CIOs who have developed influential competence seek to understand the mindset of all related parties: Digital CIOs are the top business executives who need to make the leadership influence across the entire company and even the business ecosystem. IT leaders should be open and listen to their own staff for discussing critical issues, they also should listen to customers, business partners, or other stakeholders carefully. They need to be able to recognize the priorities and struggles of the company by understanding the business beyond IT. The overwhelming growth of information and continuous technology evolution means that CIOs should be empowered to lead changes and drive digital transformation proactively; IT can be the change agent by experiment withing better solutions to either existing or emerging problems because the latest digital technologies, platforms, and tools provide great opportunities for improving cross-functional communication and collaboration to harness innovation. IT leaders not only manage IT groups but also work to integrate IT into the business and present the strategic value proposition. The maturity level of the CIO position is the impact they have made on others, and hence, their reputation as well as their leadership achievement. The digital CIOs with self-awareness can recognize the impact they are having; taking full responsibility for that impact, and modifying it in real-time to align with the impact they are intending to have.

Digital CIOs have to practice innovation influence via envisioning and sharing technological perspectives and driving innovation: Digital IT is a paradigm shift in role, responsibility, and attitude. CIOs have to know how to play the crystal ball because vision is particularly important for CIOs due to the changing nature of technology, and because nowadays information and technology are often the game changer to either leap and fail the business even overnight. In the face of “VUCA” digital new normal, there are a lot of opportunities for CIOs to raise their intellectual voice for clarifying the role of IT in business innovation. A CIO’s technological vision should be attainable subject to current times and its ability to adapt to changing times and help the business gain a competitive advantage for the long term. Innovation happens at the intersection of people and technology. CIOs definitely should calibrate their impact on achieving the “art of possible.” They need to refine information to capture the business insight of growth opportunities or customer insight. They need to encourage creativity and constructive criticism to build a highly innovative working environment. They should not only put stress on “having the knowledge,” bot even more critically, “developing the new knowledge,” to break down constraints and overcome the numerous obstacles for unleashing the full digital potential of the business.

Digital CIOs who practice the expert power can make leadership influence more profound and empathetic: The pace of changes in IT would force more CIOs to shift into transformation-oriented digital leadership roles because IT plays a significant role in driving the digitalization of the company. To lead today’s technology-savvy workforce effectively, digital IT leaders can calibrate their impact based on their interdisciplinary knowledge, unique insight and practicing the expert power accordingly. Now more often the business is inextricably connected with technology, and the functional barriers are starting to weaken, allowing digital leaders and professionals to pursue their aspirations and to apply their skills and expertise to their greatest effect. The digital CIO is a trusted advisor to the board, a strategic partner of the business, a problem-solver for customers; and a mentor for IT staffs. In fact, an interdisciplinary CIO with proficient leadership influence and systems thinking skills to understand the business as a system is a necessary precondition to deal with the mountain of information by leveraging efficient technological tools and human know-how, lead changes in a structural way and make continuous deliveries.

Digital CIOs lead through influence, not through command & control. Overall speaking, they should play position influence, expertise influence, and social influence to improve their leadership effectiveness and calibrate their impact,. The digital CIOs are in demand to “disrupt,” inspire, change and innovate. They are not static IT managers but dynamic digital leaders.


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