Leading Questions: A CIO’s Answer to Leadership

What is the answer to the age-old question, “Are leaders born or made?” In actuality, there is no solitary answer to this, because both can be held true for different individuals. Pat Burke, writing for CIO Insight, interviewed Christopher Markham, the CIO of Florida State at Jacksonville, to further explore this question of leadership.

Markham served the U.S. Army as a commissioned officer for 15 years before taking on the role of CIO. The military provided him the opportunity to dive head first into leadership roles, and take a more hands-on, active approach to learning about leadership. According to Markham, the chief problem facing technology today is leadership. Great leaders are those who understand the relationship between technical and business value. Additionally, a CIO needs to be active with data governance because this is vital to business strategy.

IT is becoming more automated than ever before. In order to best prepare for this transition further, CIOs should begin by fulfilling their basic technology transactional needs. For Markham and his position at the university, this meant overhauling the four legacy ticketing systems with a modern service desk. This switch is promoting better efficiency, as well as great end-user satisfaction. The students have reaped the benefits of this because there are less students who leave the university altogether.

Hesitant CIOs who do not jump on the automation train will likely lose their job, or they will be left behind at the station. They will also impact the CIO position at large because it will become more difficult for qualified candidates to be taken seriously.

In his closing remarks, Markham suggests this for CIOs:

It’s possible for any IT organization to transform into more than just the overseer of the IT infrastructure. CIOs need to develop business analysts and process experts who can provide them with information needed to make impactful decisions. However, knowledge is not enough. We need to empower our people to create unique solutions for our most pressing business problems by synthesizing knowledge gained from many different places.

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