Open IT Forum: What are new ways to becoming a CIO/CTO

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At MIT Sloan’s 9th Annual CIO Symposium, CIOs and CEOs sent out a strong message to prospective leaders: create a competitive advantage. Many of them believe having a firm handle on new technologies and delivery systems and invoking innovation into your company could go a long way for you to become a CIO/CEO. Do you aspire to be a CIO/CTO one day? If so, what are three leadership skills you think you need to develop to get you there? The best response will receive 100 knowledge points!

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1) Vision – I know, this is not a skill but a CIO needs to know where to take the organization both in the next year and five years down the road.
2) Listening – This starts as a characteristic that can be developed into a skill. One must actively listen, question the person(s) making a request, and drill down to the basic needs tha must be fulfilled. Otherwise, the ‘leader’ delivers a loaf of bread when the requester really needs an oven.
3) Technological Savvy – Again, not really a skill but an accumulation of knowledge and understanding. You must understand that tab A fits in slot A. The CIO’s short-term vision should be executable.

A well-rounded CIO also must also be financially savvy in order to get the most bang for the company buck. Targeted investment. You could give each corporate user a printer all their own or you can locate printers centrally by group.

A second skill desperately needed is future-proofing the IT staff through developmental assignments, skill training, and cross-training. A good CIO is NEVER caught one deep in any of his staffing skill set.

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  • carlosdl
    These have been traditionally known as 'soft' skills, but they are now more important than ever. Improving in these areas will give you good chances to become a CIO/CTO, and to be a good one if you are already there: -Improve your human interaction skills -Learn diplomacy -Develop a service mentality -Improve your negotiation skills -Improve your political skills -Improve your communication skills
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  • James Murray
    I did a paper on this subject about 15 years ago.  At the time, the question was should an CIO/CTO have a 100% technical or 100% business background.  In researching for the paper I interviewed IT executives from government and the private sector.  Invariably the top CIO/CTO was about 10% technical and 90% business.15 years later I understand this better because there is a natural leadership culture within the business organization.  Very few IT leaders are mentored into this leadership culture.  As a result the IT leadership is not always aligned with the business vision and strategy.The 1st goal of the CIO/CTO is to think strategically about technology.  The second goal is to set expectations for the rest of the board around what technology can and can't do.  Finally the third goal is to translate the vision, strategy and business initiatives into technical requirements that can be executed by the technical teams.Skill sets tha tI would add to what Carlos is saying include:Public SpeakingTechnical writingBusiness writingUnderstand and Integrate with the business leadership culture
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  • CompleteITProfessional
    I agree with the soft skills answer. It's not easy for an IT worker to move up into a CIO role, but to do this they really need to know their subject matter, as well as working on soft skills such as communication, negotiation and influencing.I've written a few posts on these at my website, Complete IT Professional.
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