Personal Lessons for CIOs

Larry Bonfante, Founder, CIO Bench Coach | 7/17/2013 | 20 comments

Larry Bonfante
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.

View Comments: Newest First | Oldest First | Threaded View
Page 1 / 2   >   >>
stotheco   Personal Lessons for CIOs   8/2/2013 3:58:18 AM
Re: this is a tough one
Walk the talk, and you won't even have to do any more talking. Once people see your character and your discipline through you work, that will extend to their perception of you as a person also.
stotheco   Personal Lessons for CIOs   8/2/2013 3:55:32 AM
Re: Personal Lessons for CIOs
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.
Henrisha   Personal Lessons for CIOs   8/1/2013 12:50:53 PM
Re: Personal Lessons for CIOs
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.
Henrisha   Personal Lessons for CIOs   8/1/2013 12:49:55 PM
Re: Re : Personal Lessons for CIOs
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.
Kerstin Carson   Personal Lessons for CIOs   7/31/2013 7:13:08 AM
Re: Personal Lessons for CIOs
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.
SunitaT   Personal Lessons for CIOs   7/29/2013 5:18:48 AM
Re : Personal Lessons for CIOs
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.
Larry Bonfante   Personal Lessons for CIOs   7/27/2013 7:23:34 AM
Re: this is a tough one
A combination. When the opportunitiy does present itself gently remind people of IT's impact. Other times you have to explain the impact of IT through updates, newsletters and presentations.
User Ranking: Blogger
kstaron   Personal Lessons for CIOs   7/26/2013 7:07:22 PM
even keel
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?
Sara Peters   Personal Lessons for CIOs   7/20/2013 12:23:01 PM
Re: this is a tough one
@Larry Do you find that opportunities to state the value of IT naturally present themselves often enough, or do you have to create them?
Sara Peters   Personal Lessons for CIOs   7/20/2013 12:15:31 PM
Re: this is a tough one
I recognize your value Dave!
Page 1 / 2   >   >>


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.

More Blogs from Larry Bonfante
Larry Bonfante   5/7/2014   58 commentaires
Most leaders feel a sense of responsibility for creating a professional work environment where their people can succeed, but I feel this is nowhere near enough.
Larry Bonfante   4/28/2014   24 commentaires
Of all the competencies required to be an effective CIO, perhaps none is more important than being able to build positive relationships with your key stakeholders. I've never seen a CIO ...
Larry Bonfante   4/9/2014   10 commentaires
When every capital expenditure is put under a microscope, it's harder than ever to continue to make the necessary investments in refreshing the technology our companies need to compete in ...
Larry Bonfante   3/25/2014   20 commentaires
Today we are flooded with an almost infinite number of data streams. From traditional sources such as registration and consumer purchasing platforms to social media feeds, tweets, and ...
Larry Bonfante   2/25/2014   19 commentaires
CIOs don't work alone. Effective CIOs develop effective partnerships with the other executives in the "C-Suite" -- partnerships that take time, effort, and understanding to build.
Latest Archived Broadcast
We talk with Bernard Golden about accelerating application delivery in the cloud.
On-demand Video with Chat
Register for this video discussion to learn how tablets can provide true business usability and productivity.
E2 IT Migration Zones
IT Migration Zone - UK
Why PowerShell Is Important
Reduce the Windows 8 Footprint for VDI
Rethinking Storage Management
IT Migration Zone - FR
SQL Server : 240 To de mémoire flash pour votre data warehouse
Quand Office vient booster les revenus Cloud et Android de Microsoft
Windows Phone : Nokia veut davantage d'applications (et les utilisateurs aussi)
IT Migration Zone - DE
Cloud Computing: Warum Unternehmen trotz NSA auf die „private“ Wolke setzen sollten
Cloud Computing bleibt Wachstumsmarkt – Windows Azure ist Vorreiter
Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed
Enterprise Efficiency Twitter Feed
Site Moderators Wanted
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:
moderators@enterpriseefficiency.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
The State of Enterprise Efficiency in the Virtual Era: Virtualization – Smart Approaches to Maximize Gains
Virtualization is a presence in nearly all enterprise data centers. But not all companies are using it to its best effect. Learn the common characteristics of success, what barriers companies face, and how to get the most from your efforts.

Read the full report
Informed CIO: Dollars & Sense: Virtual Desktop Infrastructure
Cut through the VDI hype and get the full picture -- including ROI and the impact on your Data Center -- to make an informed decision about your virtual desktop infrastructure deployments.

Read the full report
SPONSORED BY DELL
CASE STUDIES
EBOOKS
PUBLIC SECTOR RESOURCES
VIDEOS
WHITE PAPERS
WINDOWS SERVER 2012 RESOURCES
A Video Case Study – Translational Genomics Research Institute
e2 Video


On the Case
TGen IT: Where We're Going Next

7|11|12   |   08:12   |   10 comments


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.
On the Case
Better Care Through Better Communications

6|6|12   |   02:24   |   11 comments


The achievements of the TGen/Dell project could improve how all people receive healthcare, because they are creating ways to improve end-to-end communication of medical data.
On the Case
TGen IT: Where We Are Now

5|15|12   |   06:58   |   6 comments


TGen is breaking new ground in genomic research by using Dell's storage, cloud, and high-performance computing solutions.
On the Case
TGen IT: Where We Were

4|27|12   |   06:45   |   10 comments


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 the Case
1,200% Faster

4|18|12   |   02:27   |   12 comments


Through their partnership, Dell and TGen have increased the speed of TGen’s medical research by 1,200 percent.
On the Case
IT May Improve Children's Chances of Survival

4|17|12   |   02:12   |   8 comments


IT is helping medical researchers reach breakthroughs in a way and pace never seen before.
On the Case
Medical Advances in the Cloud

4|10|12   |   1:25   |   5 comments


TGen and Dell are pushing the boundaries of computing, and harnessing the power of the cloud to improve healthcare.
On the Case
TGen: Living the Mission

4|9|12   |   2:25   |   3 comments


TGen's CIO puts the organizational mission at the heart of everything the IT staff does.
On the Case
TGen Speeding Up Biomedical Research to Save More Lives

4|5|12   |   1:59   |   6 comments


The Translational Genomics Research Institute is revamping its computing to improve speed, storage, and collaboration – and, most importantly, to save lives.
On the Case
Computing Power Helping to Save Children's Lives

3|28|12   |   2:13   |   3 comments


The Translational Genomics Institute’s partnership with Dell is enabling them to treat kids with neuroblastoma more quickly and save more lives.
Tom Nolle
The Big Reason to Use Office

3|18|14   |   02:24   |   46 comments


Office and personal productivity tools come in a first-class and coach flavor set, but what makes the difference is primarily little things that most users won't encounter. What's the big issue in using something other than Office, and can you get around it?
E2 Editors
SPONSORED: Mobile Security — A Use Case

3|4|14   |   04:27   |   16 comments


New mobile security solutions can accommodate a wide array of needs, including those of a complex university environment.
Tom Nolle
Killing Net Neutrality Might Save You Money

1|16|14   |   2:13   |   16 comments


The DC Court of Appeals voided most of the Neutrality Order, and whatever it might mean for the Internet overall, it might mean better and cheaper Internet VPNs for businesses.
Tom Nolle
The Internet of Everythinguseful

1|10|14   |   2:18   |   19 comments


We really don't want an "Internet of Everything" but even building an Internet of Everythinguseful means setting some ground rules to insure there's value in the process and that costs and risks are minimized.
Tom Nolle
Maturing Google Chrome

12|30|13   |   2.18   |   25 comments


Google's Chrome OS has a lot of potential value and a lot of recent press, but it still needs something to make it more than a thin client. It needs cloud integration, it needs extended APIs via web services, and it needs to suck it up and support a hard drive.
Sara Peters
No More Cookie-Cutter IT

12|23|13   |   03.58   |   21 comments


Creating the right combination of technology, people, and processes for your IT organization is a lot like baking Christmas cookies.
Sara Peters
Smart Wigs Not a Smart Idea

12|5|13   |   3:01   |   46 comments


Sony is seeking a patent for wigs that contain computing devices.
Tom Nolle
Cloud in the Wild

12|4|13   |   02:23   |   15 comments


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.
E2 Editors
SPONSORED: Is Malware Evading Your IPS?

11|18|13   |   03:16   |   4 comments


Intrusion prevention software is supposed to detect and block malware intrusions, but clever malware authors can evade your IPS in these five main ways.
Sara Peters
Where Have All the Mentors Gone?

9|27|13   |   3:15   |   38 comments


A good professional mentor can change your life for the better... but where do you find one?
Tom Nolle
SDN Wars & You Could Win

9|17|13   |   2:10   |   5 comments


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.
Ivan Schneider
The Future of the Smart Watch

9|12|13   |   3:19   |   39 comments


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."
Tom Nolle
Cutting Your Cloud Storage Costs

9|4|13   |   2:06   |   3 comments


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.
Sara Peters
Do CIOs Need an IT Background?

8|29|13   |   2:11   |   23 comments


Most of the CIOs interviewed in the How to Become a CIO series did not start their careers as IT professionals. So is an IT background essential?
Ivan Schneider
The Internet Loves Birthdays

8|27|13   |   3:25   |   69 comments


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.