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.