Mastering Leadership

November 05, 2019

Contributor: Christy Pettey

CIOs must reframe their mindsets to meet digital-era reality.

CIOs currently have to manage operational efficiency, sourcing, infrastructure and more, but these IT capabilities must now be complemented with rapid and constant innovation. Even business-oriented CIOs will find themselves misplaced if the IT organization is not built around experimentation, with the ability to deal with uncertainties and the new dynamics of fluid industries of the future. Learning how to lead in this fast-moving environment is critical to success.

We asked Bruce Robertson, vice president and distinguished analyst at Gartner and leader of the “Mastering Leadership,” track at Gartner Symposium/ITxpo 2016 about the steps a CIO can take to move from being a good manager to a great leader.

Q: How can a CIO assess his or her own leadership potential?

A: CIOs should assess their leadership potential by investing purposely in change and needed expertise, then measuring results. The traditional foundation of CIO skills needs augmentation to target digital business. Adopt a growth mindset and learn fast; don’t fear failure or remain stuck in a fixed mindset. Instead, venture forward and take chances — without risking too much on any experiment. Digital business won’t reward the laggards, but those who design and test many possible futures today will lead the IT organization, and indeed the business, to success.

Q: How should CIOs develop themselves and direct reports into truly digital leaders?

A: CIOs must engage their emotional, as well as rational, skills and inspire others toward those same skills with a growth mindset. CIOs will need new language and techniques to better sell the vision while empowering direct reports to use these same skills. They must be brain-aware in encouraging engagement and high performance, and must adopt new approaches toward leadership in a more uncertain business climate.

Encouraging digital leaders will require new venture approaches to investment, new personas to engage different stakeholders, and even establishing contrarian “red teams” to explore challenging opportunities.

Q: In your session at Gartner Symposium/ITxpo you will be talking about the art of persuasion. How can CIOs use persuasion to hone their leadership skills?

A: Convincing people to invest their budget, time or even attention involves more than giving homage to stated organizational metrics. It is about changing the minds and behaviors of individuals. It is about selling to individual emotion, not just reason. It means selling on values, not value.

“ The art of persuasion can help you change behavior in all directions — inside and outside of IT — for 360 degrees of impact.”

Getting people to buy in, to follow and even to lead can work if you can leverage key tools as a pro. This includes communicating more simply and powerfully, powermapping and profiling key stakeholders, connecting intersecting and sometimes competing values into a traceable values chain that works for all, and using some very simple persuasion tricks. Then, to sustain the sale into execution for success, the team sell must become the consistent team delivery. The art is in leveraging all of these things in the right measure at the right time. The art of persuasion can help you change behavior in all directions — inside and outside of IT — for 360 degrees of impact.

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