There’s a lot of talk these days about the role various executives—from the CMO to the CIO—need to play in today’s digital revolution. Perhaps a far better question is what types of qualities these leaders need to have to ensure that a successful revolution takes place. In their 2016-2017 Global CIO Survey, Deloitte sought to answer that question—with some surprising results.
In interviewing some 1,200 CIOs around the world, Deloitte found that leadership and technical skills proved far more important than inborn personality traits when it comes to playing a meaningful and positive role in each company. That’s great news for many CIOs today—especially those who entered the field a decade or more ago, only to see their responsibilities and expectations change dramatically in recent years. Ultimately, skills can be learned, and there are several specific skills all CIOs would be smart to build if they want to see their companies flourish. They’re also skills start-up companies should hire for, as they seek to build a strong digital brand and vision for their business.
Today’s CIO needs to be passionate about the industry—constantly researching what’s possible, what’s being done, and most specifically how competitors are working. They move freely outside their silos to understand how the company works, what customers and employees need, and how they can help bring those needs into place. They don’t see a clear beginning or end to their job function. They realize it merges with marketing, customers service, and finance, and they’re happy to share those hats with those who wear them full-time.
Face it: The digital landscape changes by the second. Today’s CIO needs to be able to roll with the punches—for better or worse—and to make solid, forward-facing decisions no matter what surprises pop up on the horizon. If they’ve been investing in a new customer service platform—only to find on beta test that it isn’t working as effectively as the team had hoped—they need to be willing to go back to ground zero, gather necessary information, and make the changes the greater company needs—even if it hurts their egos.
Keeping employees inspired is not just the CEO’s job. The digital transformation can be scary. It leaves many to wonder how their job function will fit in with automation, and how they will manage to keep up with the new software being floated around the digital landscape daily. As an entrepreneur, you have a leg up on legacy companies entering the digital transformation with heavily entrenched systems and cultures. But your CIO still needs to be able to inspire your team to be equally flexible, to understand the changes being made, and to see how decisions will change the company for the better.
They Think Big-Picture
There are lots of people out there who are passionate and knowledgeable about technology. Many of those people will be so focused on implementing the next cool app or program that they aren’t fully invested in understanding how their decisions will impact the entire company long-term. To be successful, your CIO must have passion not just for tech, but for your company’s big picture. They need to think in terms of longevity, agility, and vision—not just AI, analytics, and machine learning.
Communication is at the heart of any successful transformation, and that requires trust and two-way partnership. Your CIO needs to be transparent, trustworthy, and empathetic of everyone on the team. They can’t be heady, ego-driven, and impressed by what they’re capable of doing, at the expense of the overall well-being of the company. Good communication means not just explaining changes that occur, but involving the right people in every tech decision, and listening to your team’s needs.
If your CIO doesn’t already have these traits, that’s OK. These are things that can be learned and tested over time. That’s good news in a digital world that is constantly shifting and evolving—especially when it comes to a role that will play such an integral part in your company’s success.
Additional Articles on This Topic:
The CIO’s Role in the Digital Transformation Process
Five Surprising Traits Top CIOs Need
Role of the Digital CIO: Lead, Challenge, Disrupt, Transform
How CIOs Become Invaluable in the Age of SaaS