What are the top challenges CIO's face to becoming effective?

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Senior Director, Defense Programs in Software, 5,001 - 10,000 employees
I think a lot struggle with quick decisions. Making a decision with conviction. They struggle because they want to hold out options as long as possible or be as flexible as possible.  But that often is to their detriment. A fair or good decision is better than no decision in many, many cases. If you have agility, you can always recover from a not perfect decision and move forward. 

I've actually faced this problem myself in removing lesser performers.  When there’s someone who's not performing the job well, not building the organization, not driving where we need to go... I hold out sometimes a little too long.  You have to recognize that that person might be better in a different role or not with the organization, and keeping them is holding you back, and maybe them back. But making that decision is important. 

The reverse of this is a big area that challenges CIOs in becoming effective. I am a big fan of firing jerks, even high performing ones. That person will tear your organization down. Being compassionate is not being nice; it’s in part reducing the suffering of others. You can't say, "Oh, that jerk is really good at whatever, it’s worth it." You know what, that always blows up. You can get other people that aren't jerks to get you there. And those are the things that I think scare CIOs and hold them back. They're not willing to fire star performers even if they are toxic. They're not willing to create a culture that's really welcoming. 

Another challenge is being unable to say no to the business regardless of what gets asked. So they’re not willing to say, "Here is our roadmap and here's what we're going to do." Instead they are jumping from priority to priority and change to change.  One of the things to win that ability to drive is reliable delivery. If you're going to do that, you have to beat the odds. Well, the only way you can beat the odds is by creating them. So, you create the playing board of what is expected. You have to know what's moveable, know what's in your toolkit, and then manage it so that when something does come in, you can say, "I will deliver that in this way. And I know I can do it."   You can’t be the person who’s always failing because you’re always giving too much.  If you can't deliver reliably, they're not going to call you. They're going to call someone else.
CIO in Education, 201 - 500 employees
The CIO not being empowered to do their job, their inability to execute and losing stamina pushing through hard/necessary/un-fun change.
2 1 Reply
Senior Director, Defense Programs in Software, 5,001 - 10,000 employees

Yes! We can all get excited by things with a business value but sometimes we walk in to tasks that just have to get done and are a slog. Email platform migrations for me! 😬

CIO in Education, 1,001 - 5,000 employees
Trust and credibility. Without either, there's no way to be effective.

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