Ways to ensure CIOs and CEOs hit it off

Diary of a CIO headhunter: Why some CIOs and CEOs fail to see eye to eye

In the first of a new series, headhunter Cathy Holley argues that your CV may contain pointers to your likely relationship with the boss.

One of the real privileges of being a specialist headhunter is that you create a community in your given field: mine is a world of CIOs. Every day, my colleague Vicky Maxwell Davies and I are fortunate enough to meet CIOs from around the world in a broad range of industries, each with his or her own view of the world.

Headhunters are well positioned as trusted advisers. Who else do you confide in when you want to change roles, restructure your team or indeed just want to have a good old moan about ungrateful customers? Who can you share your successes with, without looking like an egocentric bragger?

Headhunters are generally good listeners, capable of synthesising what they hear to create balanced, well-informed views on every topic under the sun of interest to their community.

Business discussion taking place on table

There is usually a significant mismatch between CIOs' and CEOs' real interests
(Photo credit: Shutterstock)

However, some of the day-to-day job of being a headhunter is rather dull: only the most dedicated - and rather strange - really enjoy writing job specs or candidate reports. The exciting bit of the role is meeting new organisations, hearing their aspirations and challenges and knowing that you are going to be part of the team delivering that vision.

Variability of CIO-CEO relationships
The stories we hear from CIOs and their top teams and industry advisers are often funny and sometimes incredibly sad. I'll share what I can, but I thought it might be useful to start by looking at why some relationships between CEOs and CIOs are better than others.

I recently addressed a Gartner event and research director Dave Aron was speaking on this topic. What struck me most was that comparing the real interests of a CEO and CIO, there is usually a significant mismatch. Few CIOs today spend much time thinking about technology. Generally speaking, that's what your world-class team, if you've got one, should be worrying about.

However, many world-class CIOs think that reshaping business processes is the ultimate achievement and this objective must surely be what the CEO wants to...