Leadership

Video: Top leadership qualities of CIOs

What does it take to be a great IT leader? The best insights come from the CIOs who are out there doing it every day. In this episode of Sanity Savers for IT executives, see what today's CIOs have identified as the top leadership qualities needed to run an IT department.

What does it take to be a great IT leader? The best insights come from the CIOs who are out there doing it every day. In this episode of Sanity Savers for IT executives, see what CIOs have identified as the top leadership qualities needed to run an IT department.

Here's the original article that this episode was based on:

Top ten leadership qualities of successful CIOs

About

Jason Hiner is Editor in Chief of TechRepublic and Long Form Editor of ZDNet. He writes about the people, products, and ideas changing how we live and work in the 21st century. He's co-author of the upcoming book, Follow the Geeks (bit.ly/ftgeeks).

6 comments
Ken
Ken

Well stated and largely on target Jason. How to get this message to the HR people and top hiring authorities who now seem to require current knuckles down coding experience in their framework de jour? Deep and broad background across IT platforms and vendors, along with a solid understanding of data processing fundamentals should be a requirement for sure. But recent personal coding with C# or Pearl or ASM? If that is what the candidate has been doing, then he probably has not developed the broader skills required to facilitate among stakeholders, recognize and enforce best practices and motivate for creative and tightly integrated solutions. I've seen and repaired many many failed systems which were designed and constructed by pure techies with more allegiance to their favorite coding environments than to the big picture needs of the enterprise. If Senior hiring authorities and HR screeners wold only consider the qualifications you discussed, there would be way fewer expensive failed systems being implemented every day.

No User
No User

I would add that although "good" communication skills are required you certainly don't need "Excellent" communication skills so they are not required. I think that although communication skills are necessary they are being pushed to the point of being over rated. Far more important is "WHAT" is being communicated not how well you communicate it. Having pretty hand writing but missing the mark is not a must have skill neither is being charismatic and having great verbal skills and talking around in circles or psycho babel or doublespeak. It's a matter of substance over symbolism. The idea of turning IT into a profit center is certainly not new and it's typically the undoing of IT in a company if not the company it's self. Making a profit is synonymous with staying in business but enough is enough. It can be on a case by case a do able proposition but not across the board as presented. The mindset of making IT a profit center is typically the result of someone who doesn't understand the true value of IT. If you can't see that IT enables the business to do things that it otherwise couldn't do with out IT and the profit that brings as well as to do things more efficiently and the cost that saves then you most likely are someone outside IT that has been appointed to the C-suite. ;) Sadly typically where IT could be situated to generate profit on the side the idea is shot down by the standard business types. They view that as a threat because IT will be seen in a different light and be viewed as being much more valuable and that IT folks are using it as a ruse to personally profit from it at the detriment of the company. How many companies that sell IT and or IT solutions have IT folks (in support roles) who are by doing their job the top sales people with out commission and recognition for being such? I mention this because of the profit center mentality and viewing IT as only pure cost. Like the commercial says if you don't get it then you don't get it! ;) Once again I think it's another slap at IT by someone from the outside who just can't get out of his system that IT is part of the business and it is business that needs aligned with IT so that it can be aligned with the entire business. ;) Dido RTyrrell ... It would be nice to have an article that really covers the skills that you need to be a CIO/CTO or simply the top IT position by any designation and then follow with an in depth article for each skill. You could then finish with having a decent explanation of why each skill is needed and some examples.

sjdorst
sjdorst

From #6: It???s possible for a department of tech pros to be managed by a person who isn't technically inclined. However, being technically savvy usually helps a CIO stand out as one of the greats Particularly in smaller companies - where the CIO and CTO jobs are held by the same person - or even smaller ones where the IT Manager sits 1 level below the top - I don't think it's possible to NOT be tech savvy! In general, managers and executives need to understand the challenges/complexities that their subordinates face. Understanding doesn't require the detailed knowledge that the line people need to do their jobs, but the technically ignorant don't even have the background necessary for the understanding they do need to lead/manage well! I addressed this in a blog post about 2 years ago: http://new-business-paradigm.blogspot.com/2006/02/how-much-does-boss-need-to-know.html I've posted this in the discussion of the original article as well

RTyrrell
RTyrrell

The top 5 seemed pretty generic and could be applied to any senior manager. Any senior manager needs to be able to communicate well to area specialists as well as non-specialists (For example: A CFO needs to be able to communicate to a financial expert as well as non-finance people). Any senior manager needs a strong technical (or financial, or operational) knowledge. I would like to see qualities listed that are particular to the CIO; or are great leadership qualities inherently generic?

Ken
Ken

Your assertion is true Steven. Especially for the small to mid sized businesses. I'd even say that it's important at the mega corporation level to a large degree. The problem comes when that leader's entire technical background and loyalty is to a single vendor's framework or tools. I shudder to recall how many failed projects I've seen where the decision was made to - "implement a solution with (fill in the blank) 's framework or compiler or tool set of whatever - before the requirements (both present and visualized future) were even documented. The tool should not drive the solution. Never. Ever. That's the core problem I've seen after many years of reviving multi-million dollar monstrosities which demo'ed well and then failed under real world loads and conditions. Breadth of technical experience is essential, even if the current resume builder job has one locked into a preordained framework.

Ken
Ken

IMHO the generic leadership qualities are every bit as valid for the CIO as for any other senior leader. Additional qualifications of the CIO would include but not be limited to: 1-a solid understanding of pure data processing fundamentals. Sadly, the era of drag and drop programming has rendered this essential background to the heap of dinosaur bones - to many enterprises detriment. 2- a broad background in code design or software engineering which has been implemented with a wide variety of programming languages and environments. 3- data management strengths to protect corporate (single source) data whle allowing deltas for subsystem specific requirements. 4- experience across many levels and sizes of prcessors and hardware subsystems. In most non-trivial enterprises the notion that "one size fits all" produces no best of breed solutions and quite often results in unstable, unscaleable and extremely costly to maintain solutions.

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