Clear Direction: Does Your CIO Know Where You’re Going?

By: Daniel Newman| - Leave a comment

Photo Credit: clappstar Flickr via Compfight cc

As the tug-of-war for leadership in the digital transformation continues, my belief is this: whosoever creates the vision, will become the leader.

I’ve talked a lot in the past about the leadership role bouncing among various new players in the digital game. Suddenly the CEO and CFO aren’t the only ones holding the reins. They’re walking a tenuous leadership path with CDOs, CTOs, CMOs—and just about every other acronym in between. But the most important of these during the digital transformation, in my opinion, is the CIO.

Unfortunately, what many are finding—especially regarding research from executive recruitment firm Robert Half—is that CIOs aren’t quite ready for the job. In fact, their survey showed that over half of CIOs were struggling to be taken seriously when it came to strategic vision—an unacceptable number given their critical role in driving technological change. The following are just a few reasons CIOs must up their game when it comes to creating clear tech vision—and how they can go about doing it.

Vision Dictates Direction
Leadership experts agree that vision is key in building a successful company. Vision can guide an organization. It can help set a mission and define strategies to achieve goals. And it can inspire employees to get on board, especially during times of massive change—such as the change experience in this period of digital transformation. When CIOs are unable to communicate a clear vision for how information technology will help grow the company, help customers, and allow employees to work more efficiently, chaos and confusion—not to mention a fallen company—can ensue. In today’s economy, a clear tech vision is simply too important to leave to chance.

Today’s Tech is About Strategy—Not Just Day-to-Day Workload
Yes, it’s important to keep the company moving. But today’s CIOs need to be able to do more than that. While 30 percent of CIOs in the Robert Half study said under-investment in IT was limiting their ability to be a strategic partner in tech visioning, I’d say part off that problem lies on their shoulders. Digital CIOs need to be able to make a solid case for their tech strategy—one that all layers of the company, including their fellow executives—buy into and believe in. When they’re able to do that, the investments will naturally follow suit, allowing them to spend their time more effectively.

Vision Breeds Engagement and Accountability
We all need something bigger than ourselves to wake up for. The same goes for employees, especially in times of rampant change. When CIOs have clear goals, a clear strategy, and a clear purpose for the changes they’re undertaking for the company, employees don’t just fall in line—just jump on board and start working toward that shared goal. That’s the kind of leadership we need in today’s digital workspace.

With the Right Skills, They Can Help Their Companies Succeed
I’ll come out and say it: CIOs can no longer survive on technical skills alone. They need to be able to answer the “why” behind every tech decision. But according to the Robert Half study, just 53 percent of those surveyed felt they had skills in leadership—and only 40 percent said they had strategic vision in terms of adding value to their company. Every HR team on the planet today needs to be adding leadership and vision to their CIOs skill profile and hiring for nothing less. When they do, they will see their customer base and companies grow—two things they absolutely need to be part of.

The world of the CIO is changing. It’s no longer enough to ask if your CIO has vision—it’s time to make sure he or she does. Anything less will jeopardize your company’s ability to grow—and eventually even simply compete—in today’s digital landscape.

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About The Author

Daniel Newman

Founder and President, Broadsuite, Inc.

After 12 years of running technology companies including a CEO appointment at the age of 28, I traded the corner office for a chance to drive the discussion on how the digital economy is going to forever change the way business is done. I'm an MBA, adjunct business professor and 4x author of best-selling business books including "The Millennial CEO" and "The New Rules of Customer Engagement." Pianist, soccer fan, husband and father, not in that order. Oh and for work...I'm the co-founder of V3B [Broadsuite], a marketing firm specializing in the digital space, helping companies be found, seen and heard in a cluttered digital world.

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