Posts Tagged ‘IT leadership’


In 1986 BusinessWeek Magazine ran a story entitled “Management’s Newest Star:  Meet the Chief Information Officer”.  Corporate IT had arrived!  No longer would we be locked in dark basements doing our work in relative obscurity.  The business community recognized the importance of IT and the need to use technology as a strategic resource to drive the company to new heights.  From the basement to the penthouse!

There are few companies today that do not run on a technology foundation.  In fact, Gartner declares “Every budget is an IT budget.  Every company is an IT What happenedcompany.”  Technology is empowering customers and driving companies toward new processes, products, services, and even business models.  It is disrupting entire industries and causing changes in societal behavior.  It seems obvious that the pace and impact of technological change are accelerating.  In fact, 86% of CEOs say that technological advances will transform their business by 2019.

Back in 1986, the future looked very bright for the CIO and the corporate IT department.  Today we seem to be at the beginning of a virtual technological tsunami driving momentous change.  This should be a glorious age for the CIO and corporate IT! 

Yet the calls for IT transformation are growing stronger and more frequent.  We see predictions that the CMO will soon be spending more on technology than the CIO.  We witness an increase in shadow IT and technology spending outside the IT budget.  We see new C-suite roles emerging – such as the Chief Digital Officer, the Chief Data Officer, and the Chief Innovation Officer.  And these new roles are taking on duties that previously had been considered the domain of the Chief Information Officer!  There is a growing recognition that the traditional role played by the CIO and corporate IT is insufficient for the brave new world ahead.

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Too often IT professionals are almost viewed as outsiders by others in the company.  Oh sure, everyone knows that you are on the same payroll, but there’s just something…well, different.Outsiders

Perhaps it is because IT is often behind closed doors.  Or it could be that they view IT as simply a service that could be purchased rather than as a true partner motivated to help drive the business forward.  The issue could possibly be that some of the IT processes make it difficult for others to do business with us.  Perhaps they are picking up on the vibe that many see themselves as IT professionals rather than as bankers, manufacturers, retailers or distributors (see “What Business Are You In?”).

If everyone is moving forward together, then success takes care of itself. – Henry Ford

The silo mentality needs to be eliminated.  Business is difficult enough, and competition is fierce.  Your company needs everyone on the same team moving forward together.

But let’s face it.  Even if IT suddenly announced that they were changing jerseys so that they could play on the same team as the rest of the company, that doesn’t mean they would be readily accepted.  Others may not be used to looking at you that way.  They could have preconceived notions about what IT can and should be.  There could be years of history to overcome.  Mindsets need to change both within and outside IT.  And actions need to follow words.

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A general does not fight a war alone.  A coach cannot win a game on his own.  And without the dedicated efforts of the IT team, a CIO will fail.

You can establish a terrific vision and direction, but if your team refuses to follow, it is for naught.  You can come up with the best strategy in the world, but if your team cannot execute, what have you gained?  You can talk about the need to be more innovative, but if your team is not engaged, that likely won’t happen. team

“People buy into the leader before they buy into the vision.” —John Maxwell

Leading the IT department is not something you can totally delegate to your IT leadership team.  Yes, these managers are a key element in the ongoing success of the department and the company.  They need your coaching and mentorship (see How Are You Developing IT Bench Strength?).  The relationship that each of your managers has with their individual team members is important to the morale and well-being of the department.  But that cannot substitute for the relationship a CIO should build with each individual in the IT department.

“The first responsibility of a leader is to define reality. The last is to say thank you. In between, the leader is a servant.” —Max DePree

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Your future is created by what you do todayYou hear it in the press, from the  industry experts, and perhaps even from your own C-suite — the siren call to transform IT.
You know changes are needed – maybe even radical ones – to ensure future business success.  But the realities of today’s business are at the same time both demanding and limiting.

How can you begin making noticeable progress on the transformation that you know is needed for future success?

This article was written as a guest post on Martha Heller’s blog.  Martha is President of Heller Search Associates, Contributing Editor of CIO Magazine, and former Founder and Managing Director of CIO Executive Council.

Click here to read the entire article.


More than 60% of CEOs will hire their next CIO from outside the company, according to a 2013 Gartner survey.  Is that any reflection on you as the current CIO?  What are you doing to develop a great leadership team?Building Bench Strength

The intent to hire the next CIO externally could simply mean that the CEO has a “grass is greener on the other side” mentality.  It might mean that you have inadequately developed the talents of your subordinates, or it could imply that you haven’t yet given them enough PR within the upper echelon of the company.  Or possibly your department simply doesn’t have anyone capable of taking the reins anytime soon and an infusion of additional talent might be needed.  Perhaps, though, it indicates that the CEO isn’t totally satisfied with the current direction and performance of IT. Read the rest of this entry »


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