This post from the CIO Journal (under the Wall Street Journal) lists 5 key pillars that Art Langer considers necessary for CIO success. CIO's generally have many concerns and efforts that need to come off without a mistake – it's the nature of being a leader. These efforts require a skillset that can be unique to the CIO, but that's not to say that all skills are equal. This list points out the pillars of what makes a successful CIO. The first point (and one that all executive level management can benefit from) is to communicate more effectively. For the CIO in particular, this means being able to explain IT with a business perpective:
CIOs who learn to effectively articulate IT from a business perspective are winning the day. The more closely your language resembles the way people in the business speak, the easier it will be to integrate IT into the business. CIOs recommend that up-and-coming IT leaders spend time in the business. This should include visiting the firm's clients and being part of production activities. In this way, you can actually understand the culture of the business and develop insights into how IT can truly provide value. Typically, the more visibility you have as a CIO, the easier it is to sell your ideas and determine what you need to do to maximize support from the field.
Another of Langer's pillars is the understanding that cost is important. He doesn't mean the typical “IT reduces cost” sort of mindset, either. Langer explains how a CIO must establish fiscal control and monitoring so that they begin to become the same in the eyes of the board as other executive level leaders. This will help them become more integrated with the business and prove that they are not merely IT focused, but a business leader who should be considered part of the board.