CIOs, These Are Your 2022 Resolutions

January 26, 2022

Contributor: Ava McCartney

The time is ripe to upgrade your personal and professional self.

Every year, millions of people make New Year’s resolutions — live healthier lives, save more money, reconnect with old friends and so forth. Here at Gartner, we identify resolutions for IT leaders who strive for greater success. For the 20th straight year, we have crowdsourced the best ideas from our CIO management analysts to bring you this top 10 list.

“The new year offers a time to reflect and set goals not only for personal but also for professional development,” says Mark Raskino, Gartner Distinguished VP Analyst. “Our 2022 CIO resolutions can help CIOs to sharpen their leadership capabilities, extend and augment their organization’s tech talent base to deal with increasing demand for change, and power a better, more effective business, especially in these turbulent times.”

Download now: The Leadership, Organizational and Technology Priorities CIOs Must Address in 2022

We’ve broken down the list into three themes: better leadership, better talent management and better business practices. Commit to working on two to four of the 10 resolutions this year. Start small, repeat often and build up your strengths.

CIO Resolutions 2022

4 Resolutions for Better Leadership

No. 1: Prioritize like a hostage negotiator

You will, no doubt, face competing and ever-shifting challenges in the year ahead. To move smartly and decisively, work like a hostage negotiator to hammer out priorities with your executive peers:

  • Listen actively, maintain eye contact and avoid judgment.
  • Be mindful of and intentional with your body language.
  • Create rapport by building mutual understanding. Adjust for cultural cues and context.

No. 2: Seize the opportunity to replatform your career

When the world went remote and digital in early 2020, technology — and technology professionals — became increasingly vital to our everyday lives. CIOs gained kudos and credibility. Nearly two years later, make sure to ask “what's next?” If you want to maintain and augment your reputation as a strategic leader:

  • Build expertise so you can think differently about where and how to deploy platforms.
  • Stop thinking like a supplier of IT; instead, link into ecosystems that push innovations toward you. 
  • In the face of a big business challenge, ask yourself how other advanced platform players would respond and adjust accordingly. 
  • Identify and pursue new digital markets and connect into ecosystems that can monetize in fresh ways. 
  • Become proficient in digital product management leadership and development.

No. 3: Become more stoic

The stoic CIO hones self-control and fortitude, overcoming emotion to maintain clear and unbiased reason. This is particularly important in 2022, which we predict will bring competing ideas, pressures, interruptions and voices. To practice the four essential values of stoicism:

  • Undertake a small, personally uncomfortable challenge every day.
  • Before every decision, check whether you are on a high or low. If either, wait until you reach an even keel.
  • Find a new, just behavior and make it a regular practice.
  • Find a daily action to distill your learning.

Download now: The Top 3 Strategic Priorities for CIOs

No. 4: Tool up to balance your weak points and blind spots

The best tools are the ones that plug your weak spots. The complete IT leader continually uses technology to make up for their personal shortcomings. Some of our favorites include a time-keeping gadget for those who often lose track of the time of day, a yoga app for calming the mind and body, grammar-correcting software to polish written communication and social media platforms to stay up to date on zeitgeist. 

3 Resolutions for Better Talent Management

No. 5: Convince job candidates to “swipe right”

Early indications from Gartner research suggest that 34% of CEOs are seeing a significant wave of workforce resignations, and the war on talent is most definitely on your mind. Resolve to offer a proposition that talented employees can’t resist:

  • Be the leader they want to see. Observe and analyze the leaders that your target hires most admire, and absorb their key traits into your leadership persona. 
  • Respond to the feeling behind the words of prospects and employees. This decreases the likelihood that you will miss the mark and keeps relationships healthy.
  • Offer flexibility beyond location. Ask what flexibility means to someone — it might be about how they work, when they work, or when and how they take time off. 
  • Find ways to bestow prestige on technical talent that do not involve becoming a manager. For example, use recognition programs to reward exemplary team members.

No. 6: Personally drive the inclusion of diverse talent

While many CIOs work hard to attract and hire diverse talent, they often drop the ball when it comes to making sure new employees receive inclusive and equitable treatment. Invite high-potential, underrepresented talent to tell you what stunts their growth, and use this information to build an environment in which they can thrive. Start with these actions:

  • Message that diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) initiatives matter to you by attending internal sessions and joining groups dedicated to the topic.
  • Use quick, anonymous surveys to ask newcomers about and gauge their perspective on inclusivity. 
  • Schedule monthly lunches or other casual get-togethers to ask questions and get feedback from tenured staff. 
  • Combine inputs from the above, and collaborate with fellow leaders to enact solutions.

No. 7: Assemble an imaginary leadership advisory council

When it comes time to make big, quick decisions, especially in areas where you may not be fluent, mentors are invaluable. However, your personal board of directors is not always available. In these cases, it’s worth asking yourself, “what would X do?” Create a list of five to six great leaders you admire, do the necessary research to become deeply familiar with their thinking styles and leverage their approaches to assess your choices from different angles.

3 Resolutions for Better Business

No 8: Become an activist CIO for a better world

Not only have CEOs begun to acknowledge the importance of environmental, social and governance (ESG), but talent is also paying increasing attention to just how progressive their employers are. CIOs have the capacity and responsibility to help drive more conscious and sustainable business behaviors. To do so, try the following:

  • Get off the sidelines and pick a subject — social justice, data transparency, animal welfare, etc. — that matters to you personally. 
  • Choose the style of activism — education, advocacy, campaigning, policy development, fundraising, case building or community service — that best suits you. 
  • Form, carve out time for and track habits around engaging in your chosen area of focus.
  • Bring insights from your activism to your leadership group and, if appropriate, solicit enterprise involvement in the issues.

No. 9: Restore your longer-term leadership drive

For two years, emergency demands have been breaking hard-won IT governance principles. The risk is that the quick-win, rule-breaking, incremental value culture will stick. This can corrupt good design and integration principles, degrade systems toward new legacy complexity and friction, undermine platform work, and reduce the deep strategic value the business really needs from tech. To break this vicious cycle and restore your longer-term leadership:

  • Practice the art of saying no to regain control.
  • Update your long-term, tech-enabled industry vision to shift back to strategic thinking and planning.
  • Identify, celebrate and support business technologist roles and communities. The closer you get to them, the more influence you will have over tech demand. 
  • Explain and teach composability to your C-level colleagues. Train them to understand the business agility that platforms, components and reuse offer. 
  • Develop quick approval paths for composable software. Discourage monolithic technology requests by subjecting them to bureaucratic processes.
  • Proactively offer low-overhead, quick-win ideas; for example, novel business intelligence (BI) analyses or upgrades to collaboration tools.

No. 10: Embrace M&A for personal power development

As uncertainties lift and business confidence increases, the appetite for mergers and acquisitions (M&As) increases. Globally, M&A deal values doubled between 2020 and 2021, leaving unprepared CIOs vulnerable to political power shifts. To increase or simply maintain your level of influence and role as a business partner, directly participate in M&A discussions. Among your options:

  • Suggest companies you think might make attractive targets and explain why. 
  • Brush up on your knowledge of power politics and M&A. 
  • Build and reinforce partnerships with the subset of leaders most involved in M&A action at your company. 
  • Steer away from common pitfalls such as misjudged opportunities, unclear deal drivers, misconceived benefits, outright execution flaws and excessive power politics.
  • Prepare your teams to deal with conflict productively, and choose your role in battle wisely.

In short: 

  • For the 20th edition of our CIO resolutions, we’ve broken the list into three themes: better leadership, better talent management and better business practices.
  • Use these resolutions to be more effective and advance your career in turbulent times.
  • Choose two to four resolutions upon which to focus; commit to working on them slowly but surely throughout the year.

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