Information Technology Management with a Purpose

Aug 16 2010   6:20AM GMT

Leadership qualities essential for the CIO

S R Balasubramanian Profile: S R Balasubramanian

Every CIO functions in various capacities at an organization. Due to this multi-faceted job profile, he requires various traits that put him in charge of the situation. As a good manager, he can function very well by being dedicated and efficient. Just this capability will not take him far, since he continues to be considered a good techie who can help people with usual problems. In my opinion, the CIO has enough potential to rise up to high levels and be a person who matters.

For the CIO to really become a leader and play a significant role in the organization, he has to take a leap—put his neck on the block and play for higher stakes. Therefore, playing a leadership role requires that he imbibes the following qualities.

Have the vision: The CIO needs a clear sense of direction—his vision should extend to matters farther than his departmental issues. He should look at the environment that the organization operates in, the company’s strengths, and faced challenges etc. Thereby, he has to formulate plans that will help the company to become a winner.

Communicate right: A CIO’s vision and plans may need articulation for these to be understood. This could be through presentations, strategy notes, discussions or any other form of communication. Such communication needs to be focused and also expressed in an easily understood form. As often said, the management is not interested in technology, but in the business solution that it brings forth.

Be proactive: It’s essential that you step forward and look for solutions to various issues in the organization. This is more advisable than waiting for someone to approach you for a solution. The CIO has to reach out to various stake holders and offer help to their problems.

Become the ideal team leader: You have to manage the team which delivers. So explain the purpose of various tasks to them and give the required guidance. Encourage and motivate them to deliver more than what they think they can.

Achieve execution excellence: Plans have very little relevance if they are not executed well. The CIO has to ensure delivery in order to stay credible and bring in excellence into the work that gets done. Only then can a CIO enjoy the management’s confidence and get their continuous support. 

Cultivate relationships: One of your contributions as a CIO could be the ability to create and maintain good relationship with all stakeholders. Not only would you get their ideas and support, but also create an environment which is conducive for your team to operate. Thus you can let your team concentrate on work while taking care of the surrounding environment.

The above are some qualities, which in my opinion, help a CIO play the role of the leader and get to be a person of significance in the organization. There could be other traits that a leader could posses and there may be many other views. Therefore, the views expressed in this article may be seen as a set of suggestions.

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