One of the things about being in a leadership position is that life lessons constantly present themselves as both challenges and opportunities. Here are a few lessons that have helped shaped my thinking and my approach to leading as a CIO.
Never assume people understand the value of what you do. One of the most important jobs of a CIO is to raise awareness as to the tangible business value that technology is creating for your organization. Many of us were raised to believe that if we did a good job and kept our noses clean we would be recognized and rewarded. Baloney. You need to market the things your team is doing and educate your stakeholders on the value these efforts are bringing to your organization.
There was an old commercial for a now defunct airline that had a tagline that said, "We have to earn our wings every day." When you are a CIO, this tagline applies. You can rack up countless successes, but the first outage you have, people will cling to it like grapes to a vine. This makes it even more important to market the team's successes as they counter-balance the occasional operational challenge. You never really arrive as a CIO, you have to roll up your sleeves and earn your reputation day in and day out.
It's critical as CIO that people like you and want to work with you. More than any other discipline, people usually don't understand what we do and that lack of understanding can create discomfort and make people feel stupid. Nobody (especially executives) wants to feel uncomfortable or stupid. Therefore, you need to be easy to deal with, positive to be around, and be willing to educate and inform in a way that keeps egos intact and makes them feel comfortable asking you questions and working with you.
Words have power. My wife often tells me (I learn many leadership lessons from her) that it's not what you say, it's how you say it. This is also true regarding the body language and facial expressions you exhibit when speaking with people. Are you coming across as positive and constructive or do you sound and look annoyed, frustrated, and upset?
Don't take yourself too seriously. When you start to develop some success and some notoriety, it's very easy to start to read your press clippings and believe them! A wise man once told me that you're never as good as you think you are when things are going well and you're never as bad as you think you are when things are going poorly. Keep perspective and balance and never get too high or too low. Equilibrium is always a great goal for a CIO.
When you set out to do something or be something, then you should do so with the best of your ability. You also have to be someone of good moral with good ethics. These lessons are not just for CIOs as Sherly has said, but they are definitely valid for everyone in almost every field. Well done.
Exaclty, @Kerstin. These 'lessons' and tips aren't just for CIOs. They're applicable and valid in almost all fields, and you can even apply this wisdom in your own personal life. I think the bottom line is you shouldn't think that you have to be certain way so that you'll get a raise or promotion. That just isn't a good enough motivation.
To a certain extent, I agree with you @SunitaT but it doesn't seem very fair to take all of the heat for unavoidable circumstances that are in no way your fault. That said, I do agree that there has to be some of this going on (office politics, so you can't escape it)... However, you have to be the one to make the judgement call. Those who are best at gauging this tend to be the best managers.
As another poster wrote, these are lessons for any professional. They'll make a person more marketable as an employee and more whole as a human being. Larry, I appreciate the idea of balance that comes through in this article. Acknowledging one's value while being aware of when to put oneself in check is as imperative in the workplace as it is after we punch out at the end of the day.
Not all problems can be solved. When upper management complains about certain things that cannot be avoided, it is your job to take the heat. But what is more vital, it is your job to absorb the heat to keep it from reaching your subordinate.
I like the line that you are never as good as you think you are when things are going good nor as bad as you think when they are going bad. Live by that and you can minimize the lows surrounding negative events.
How have you best been able to help people appreciate your role?
The blogs and comments posted on EnterpriseEfficiency.com do not reflect the views of TechWeb, EnterpriseEfficiency.com, or its sponsors. EnterpriseEfficiency.com, TechWeb, and its sponsors do not assume responsibility for any comments, claims, or opinions made by authors and bloggers. They are no substitute for your own research and should not be relied upon for trading or any other purpose.
12/17/2013 - This webcast will show how you can:
-Transform your IT infrastructure by leveraging Dell’s OpenManage integrated with System Center, our Hyper-Scale technologies, and factory capabilities
-Connect with people-centric solutions with Dell Desktop Virtualization Solutions (DVS)
-Inform your users with business intelligence based on Dell deployment, applications like Boomi, and comprehensive reference architectures
Enterprise Efficiency is looking for engaged readers to moderate the message boards on this site. Engage in high-IQ conversations with IT industry leaders; earn kudos and perks. Interested? E-mail: email@example.com
Dell's Efficiency Modeling Tool The major problem facing the CIO is how to measure the effectiveness of the IT department. Learn how Dell’s Efficiency Modeling Tool gives the CIO two clear, powerful numbers: Efficiency Quotient and Impact Quotient. These numbers can be transforma¬tive not only to the department, but to the entire enterprise. Read the full report
Now that TGen has broken new ground in genomic research by using Dell's storage, cloud, and high-performance computing solutions, the company discusses what will come next for it and for personalized medicine.
The Translational Genomics Research Institute wanted to save lives, but its efforts were hobbled by immense computing challenges related to collecting, processing, sharing, and storing enormous amounts of data.
On a recent African trip I saw examples of the value of the cloud in developing nations, for educational and community development programs. We could build on this, but not only in developing economies, because these same programs are often under-supported even in first-world countries.
VMware's debate with Cisco on SDN might finally create a fusion between an SDN view that's all about software and another that's all about network equipment. That would be good for every enterprise considering the cloud and SDN.
Wearing a bulky, oversized watch is good training for the next phase in wristwatches: the Internet-enabled, connected watch. Why the smartphone-tethered connected watch makes sense, plus Ivan demos an entirely new concept for the "smart watch."
Cloud storage costs are determined primarily by the rate at which files are changed and the possibility of concurrent access/update. If you can structure your storage use to optimize these factors you can cut costs, perhaps to zero.
The Internet has evolved into a machine for drumming up a chorus of "Happy Birthday" messages, from family, friends, friends of friends who you added on Facebook, random people that you circled on G+, and increasingly, automated bots. Enough already.
Fedora Linux is launching a new model for structuring Linux distributions, a two-ring approach with core functions surrounded by special-interest-group customizations. This could streamline Linux to enhance its role in everything in our tech future.
For many users, lack of support is the only barrier to open-source adoption, and there are some strategies that can be used to get you support and one possible way of minimizing your need for it in the first place.
Who'd have thought? But the liaison is actually not only good for both companies, it's good for the cloud market, because it will promote the cloud to SMBs, and it's the little guys that will make or break the cloud of the future.