Posted by: S R Balasubramanian
C-level aspirations, CIO career, leadership
Today you are the CIO, but what next? Truth be told, this question may not have clear answers.
Views vary, and so do the aspiration levels of CIOs. For a person starting at the lower level, getting to a C-level position could be the ultimate destination. Some may hold ambitions of getting to the Board level, while some may be taken in by the rants of ‘Can the CIO become a CEO?’ discussed as a topic in various seminars.
I have met quite a few of my fellow CIOs who rose up from being CIOs to become CEOs (of their outfits spun off as separate companies). Out of these, some managed it very well; others did not. A couple of others took the courage of taking over charge of a software (or service) company as CEOs. Many CIOs are members of the management or executive committees, and play a part in organizational decision making. Maybe, it’s that only a few CIOs get to be Board members, and a very few get to the CEO level of large organizations. However, becoming the CEO stays an unfulfilled dream for many, perhaps more because of the widespread debate generated at various forums.
Well, a few our CIO friends may beg to differ about this pipe dream. They say that they would like to grow in stature, and be more meaningful to the organization, rather than chase such a dream. For them, becoming more powerful is about getting to a position of influence where they can alter the organizational course. They could become trusted advisors to the CEO; help the company grow and get to be more profitable through IT interventions and in bringing about business process improvements. They could one day become a CEO too, but that thought is not overbearing on them. Others feel that the goal of becoming a CEO limits their thinking, and takes them away from playing a larger role at the industry level. Some maybe considering research, or becoming a consultant of repute, or of coaching and teaching. These too are positions of significance in society.
So can we say that attaining one such stated positions mean the end of the road for a CIO? Or is there more that he can aim for? Is there too much hype on this subject (thereby confusing the CIOs), or do people initiate this talk just for discussion purposes. It may perhaps be important to really understand the CIO’s need to connect with what he wants to do in life, rather than trying to push him into a race that he is not too keen to enter?