What’s your advice to CIOs trying to build leadership teams? What qualities should they look for?

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Board of directors, former CIO in Software, Self-employed
I think there's more about how you architect your team. The first thing you have to recognize is you can't and shouldn’t be the captain of everything. You need to bring in people that you can count on to drive simultaneous key initiatives. You can be part of it, but you have to realize you're not going to be successful if you don't bring the right talent that compliments and scales you early on. I've seen many people take too long to figure out what their leadership team needs to look like, and balancing growing somebody and bringing in somebody you need now. So that's part one.

The other part, I would say, I look for skills and competencies and experiences that are right for the job, but are future-focused in the sense they've got the capability or the capacity to take on new things and deal with a lot of ambiguity. They can thrive in ambiguity. They can figure it out. They don't need a box to work in.
Former Chief Technology and People Officer in Software, 1,001 - 5,000 employees
In both cases where I was building a leadership team, I was a first CIO, but there was an existing IT team. I think for me, it was about being pretty decisive quickly about who on the existing team I thought was going to be part of the long-term leadership team versus who I felt like either couldn't get us there or created some sort of negative dynamic that I didn't think was healthy. Part of it is assessing what you have and then assessing what you're missing. I'd say the other key for me, and I did this in both of my CIO roles, was I immediately hired a right hand. It was a very vaguely described title, role.
Former Chief Technology and People Officer in Software, 1,001 - 5,000 employees
It was one person, who didn't have anyone working for them initially, because it was just sort of like, "Hey, let's build this and define this." But it was somebody that I absolutely knew that could multiply me, help me scale, help the team scale, and also kind of be that person who says, "Hey, we've got this problem. I just need you to go jump on that and get that fixed." If I talk about the hiring thing, my right-hand person took that, ran with it, and made it so easy for everybody else. All they had to do is say, "Okay. I want to meet these three people." right? Just having that was invaluable.
2 Replies
Board of directors, former CIO in Software, Self-employed

Exactly. That's what I did when I joined Dropbox, too. I would just brain dump a zillion things. This person was like a mastermind of synthesizing it into "Is this what you said?" With beautiful pictures and a few executive statements. I could roll this up and then move on to something else. It's so key to have a right-hand.

Former Chief Technology and People Officer in Software, 1,001 - 5,000 employees

It's having somebody that's thinking about, "Hey, here's where we are now. But as we mature the organization, what are the operational metrics we need to be thinking about?" They are thinking about that stuff right away, as opposed to when somebody asks you for it, or allowing us to define, "These are the metrics you ought to be asking us about," as opposed to somebody making something up. Then you can say, "I don't even know how we would get that, nor what that would tell you." Those things end up being really critical. It's got to be run like an operational team, just like anything else. I think that that was huge in both cases.

Chief Information Officer in Healthcare and Biotech, 1,001 - 5,000 employees
IT people are a unique breed. People who chose IT careers are often very inquisitive, love puzzles and are passionate about technology. Leading IT people can be a leadership challenge, often requiring personalized approaches for individual IT managers. CIOs have the challenge to determine the passions of those they lead and to channel those passions to achieve the organizational IT strategy. Often, CIOs come from very technical backgrounds and do not often have the opportunity to focus on the personal side of leadership. The best advice for CIOs is to listen and observe their teams. Step back and let these very technical and highly focused team members do what they do best. CIOs do not need to know all latest technology or all the answers to a problem. CIOs need to be good cheerleaders for their teams, trust their team to always do their best and give their teams the tools to achieve - good things will happen.
CTO in Finance (non-banking), 11 - 50 employees
I look for people who have and continue to invest in their development and want to do the same for their teams. I also look for people that will grow into the position and can grow beyond it. I have replaced myself twice with a subordinate I thought was a fit for the changing needs of the organization and moved on to a different role.
COO in Healthcare and Biotech, 5,001 - 10,000 employees
Great teams are all about the composite of the members of that team. First thing is to make sure you have the right leaders. When I’ve joined organizations, I typically assess my leadership team and either keep the leader, exit, reassign to a new role, and/or bring in new talent.

A high performance team is strongest when its members work well together. That isn’t always the smartest or best individual players. I try to create teams that I know will gel. This isn’t organic and does take work from the leader. Which includes not taking any crap, especially with respect to interpersonal dynamics. It needs to be an “all for one and one for all” mentality in which the team wins or loses together. Anyone who doesn’t operate that way and wants to be a lone wolf or glory hog doesn’t last.
Assistant Director IT Auditor in Education, 10,001+ employees
Some very good advice discussed here, but Jack Welch said it best in this leadership video.    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ojkOs8Gatsg

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