Information Technology Management with a Purpose

Aug 24 2010   2:08AM GMT

The CIO as a good communicator

S R Balasubramanian Profile: S R Balasubramanian

Today’s CIO lives in a world which involves interactions with many stakeholders; he cannot operate alone. Since he services various internal and external customers, his reach and influence go much beyond his function. The management also has its own expectation of him, and he is expected to devise technology solutions to various business issues. Therefore, the CIO has a task set up for him. He has to talk to people, understand their issues, convey his solutions, and implement them. Therefore, good communication has to be his forte. This is a trait that has to be developed in order to be a successful CIO.

For the CIO to become a good communicator, he has to build on the following aspects:

Be objective: Any communication is with a purpose, whether it be for informing a person, raising a query, proposing a solution, or for discussion. It’s essential that you clearly state the subject matter so that the person you communicate with is clear about the desired outcome.

Clarity: It is important that the communication is clear and clearly states the issues without ambiguity. It is necessary to be frank and state even unpleasant matters (where needed).

Listening: This is a very important trait and perhaps one of the hallmarks of a good communicator. Listening involves absorbing what somebody says without filtering it with your opinions — first receive the input as it is delivered, and then prepare yourself for its analysis and interpretation. You cannot work out an appropriate solution unless if you listen to people and their requirements.

Language: Many CIOs suffer from a not-so-good command over the language. This mars their communication. Many a time, improper usage of words generates misunderstanding or leads to wrong decisions. Therefore, it’s imperative that he learns the use of language (in terms of grammar and usage), and conveys messages rightly even if it’s in simple words.

Self expression: It is important that the CIO expresses his views without fear (as long as he is objective). Self doubts and lack of confidence may often prevent him from clearly and objectively expressing himself.

Confidence: It is said “nobody can make you feel inferior, without your permission”. We are often inhibited by the feeling that we may sound silly–that somebody may find fault. So we choose to stay quiet or maintain a low profile. By doing so, we convey the feeling of being unsure, and the body language works to our detriment. If we hold our heads high and speak out with courage, people sit up and listen – it is amazing how even a little display of confidence changes the audience.

Preparation: If we prepare well before a communication, it shows in terms of the confidence with which we face the audience. It’s hard work, but it pays. Imagine making a presentation without knowing much about the audience, or not being well prepared to answer questions. These dent your image as well as your ability to convince the audience.

Well, I may have missed out a few more aspects of good communication. It’s best to treat this as an illustrative list and consider practicing them as you deem appropriate.

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