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6 Skills, Habits and Traits of Successful CIOs

Being CIO means much more than being the head of the IT department.  We all know that CIOs tend not to hold that title for life.  This may be because the responsibility and pressure that comes with the title makes it more difficult to focus on areas of improvement.  Rich Hein and CIO.com have collected six skills, habits, and traits that make an average CIO into a memorable and successful one.  These points are based off of the Ones to Watch evaluation process and interviews with Donald Burns, career strategist, and Gordon Wishon, Arizon State University CIO.  As technology shifts and changes, so much the role and goals of the CIO.  Hein recommends keeping these things in mind:

  • IT Touches Everything
  • CIOs Are Always Learning and Growing
  • CIOs Are Masters of Network and Relationship Building
  • Have a Solid Knowledge of Your Business and Industry
  • The Ability to Market Ideas and Influence People
  • <li>CIOs Excel at Recognizing and Growing Talent

The truth is, no matter where you work these days, IT is everywhere.  Even if your department seems to having nothing to do with anything technological, you most likely rely on phones, the internet, and other advancements.  A successful CIO must realize this right off the bat:

“Every corner of every line of business has a need for some sort of IT support or service. That fact is a reflection of the value of what technology can do to improve performance, drive efficiency, save costs and ultimately to become more effective,” says Wishon.  IT downtime can bring a company to its knees. Imagine a day where you can't send or receive email or you can't update a product or event web page with important new information. “If anything goes wrong with IT, you can't work. You might as well go home. If you're working from home and IT gets in your way, you might as well take the day off. For a business, limited IT is like limiting the oxygen supply – very quickly, people get scared, distracted and angry,” says Burns.

A CIO that cannot grow or learn is also doomed to failure.  CIOs, according to Burns, must stay ahead of the trends at all times in order to remain relevant and successful.  One very large part of staying ahead of these trends is to put yourself in a position of open communication.  That way, you will be one of the first to hear about new and important developments.  Networking and relationship building are key to the success of a CIO.

Furthermore, in addition networking with other business leaders, you must have a solid knowledge of your own business and industry.  That way, marketing ideas and becoming a source of great influence will come more easily.  Finally, today’s successful CIO must be skilled at recognizing the next generation of talent, because these are the people who will create long term success for the company.  Being a CIO is certainly not easy, but following these tips from Hein and CIO.com can make things a bit more manageable.


About Anne Grybowski

Anne is a former staff writer for CAI's Accelerating IT Success, with a degree in Media Studies from Penn State University.

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