Information Technology Management with a Purpose

Apr 18 2011   9:00AM GMT

Personal integrity

S R Balasubramanian Profile: S R Balasubramanian

As CIOs, we hold important positions in our organizations, and usually have large budgets for our activities. We go about our jobs with due diligence, and earn a name for ourselves in the companies we work in and also in the professional circles. But it is also important to retain the reputation in the long term. A reputation can take several years to build, but may suffer a dent even with a small mistake.

A three-step formula

Let us consider a few ways by which we can ensure that our personal integrity stays at a high level. This has to be a sustained effort and a part of our work ethics. We can do so by following three easy steps.

Being honest: That is, doing only what we say; and conversely, saying only what we do. There is then no dichotomy to your behavior.

For example, if we can learn the act of delivering systems by the promised date, and do so more than once, then we build a reputation. If we are unable to meet the deadline for some unavoidable reason, it is better to approach the user/ management and seek some more time. That way, people begin to trust us. Justifying ourselves with a list of reasons (after the failure to meet the deadlines), does not take us too far as people start losing confidence in us.

Working in the company’s interest: We work for a company and its management. The management reposes confidence in us, and therefore, it is incumbent on us to live up to the management’s expectations. We have to ensure that every rupee spent on IT assets is properly utilized. When we choose various technology components, the main consideration should be their relevance to the company’s goals and objectives. Technology components should not be chosen just to impress the seniors or to show off amongst our peers in the industry.

I know of cases wherein CIOs boldly put in solutions like ERP, CRM, VOIP phones, unified communication, etc., but the projects couldn’t take off or got grounded soon after deployment. Being embarrassed, some of these CIOs even quit their jobs and joined other firms. But such mistakes can damage their reputations as the CIOs; their track records follow them, and may potentially harm their career prospects in future.

Procurement ethics: A CIO is involved in various capacities when selecting a technology, software, or a service provider. His role could be of a recommender, the final authority on selection, or of a negotiator. All these roles demand responsibility, transparency, and fairness in judgment. I know of a few unfortunate instances wherein CIOs have been accused of seeking personal favors from vendors for choosing their products/ services. Such actions, although may not leave behind any evidence, can still inflict sufficient damage to the reputation of the CIO in question, both within and outside the company.

People development: We need to remember that we are not bigger than the companies that we work for. The company must run well even if we depart. To ensure this, we must do two things while in the job. First, we should prepare a succession plan, and second, train our staff members well so that they can manage their work themselves. We should guide people and make them work on their own so that they get confident. We shouldn’t corner all glory to ourselves but share it with our colleagues.

These measures can go a long way in defining our characters and building reputations. The power that these actions can bring to us can be tremendous. In fact, many a time our reputations reach a place even before we arrive there. It’s on account of our reputations that we are respected and are invited for various forums, and thus, experience a feeling of invincibility.

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