IT leadership skills guide for CIOs

Leadership skills are often just as important as technological ones for CIOs and your leadership style can mean the difference between connecting with your staff or not. Get some advice on establishing and improving your IT leadership skills in this CIO Briefing.

Leadership skills are often just as important as technological ones for CIOs and your leadership style can mean the difference between connecting with your staff or not. Get some advice on establishing and improving your IT leadership skills in this CIO Briefing.

This guide is part of SearchCIO.com's CIO Briefing series, which is designed to give IT leaders strategic guidance and advice that addresses the management and decision-making aspects of timely topics. For a complete list of topics covered to date visit the CIO Briefing section.

Gartner to CIOs: Change the world, don't automate it

The world's largest companies say they plan to do everything it takes this year to gain a competitive edge in their markets. In the meantime, their CIOs are still stuck trying to be the best darn technology providers they can be.

Hmmm, a disconnect between CEOs and CIOs? Haven't we heard this one before?

Well, yes. But Gartner Inc. analyst Mark McDonald points to fresh statistics from the Stamford, Conn.-based research firm that suggest the perennial disconnect has more urgency, especially at companies trying to grow faster than the market.

The report surveyed 1,400 CIOs at organizations with an average IT budget of $90 million.

The study found that 63% of business leaders expect their organizations and companies to grow faster than their industry's average growth. That's compared with about 35% of the group in years past, McDonald said.

Learn more in "Gartner to CIOs: Change the world, don't automate it." Also:

The foundation for IT leadership

We've all heard of the "people, process and tools" approach to managing IT infrastructure. But even with the best people following flawless processes and using state-of-the-art tools, you can deliver poor results if the technology isn't well designed. After many years of managing infrastructure, I've developed four "operational triads" that consistently deliver better results. They encompass vision as well as strategy and are adaptable to short- and long-term business goals.

First, lead, organize and secure. Inspiring leaders create inspired employees. We must constantly work toward becoming better leaders. Recognizing leadership potential is a critical skill. I'm looking for the charisma and commitment that attracts top talent. Who you are is who you attract. We should provide the best possible service without undue red tape, which means working well as a team. When I saw the number of handoffs between our level-two support team and our desktop engineering team, I moved the support team under our engineering director. As a result, we've become more agile and responsive.

Learn more in "The foundation for IT leadership." Also:

  • Women in IT and in Charge
    Female CIOs are increasingly recognized for their willingness to take risks, break down barriers and stand their ground in the mostly male world of IT.
  • Sharpening Your IT Decision-Making Skills
    One thing is for sure: Midmarket CIOs are making more complex decisions than ever, and the results have broad implications for their companies.

ITIL process success: Get people on your side

In most organizations considering implementing an IT Infrastructure Library (ITIL) process, you will find both supporters who evangelize the guidance of ITIL and skeptics who want to take a different path to IT Service Management (ITSM).

Why is opinion so polarized? What drives the differing views of individuals who have similar backgrounds, work for the same organization, and have a shared interest in the success of the business?

According to noted psychotherapist and author Dr. Gilda Carle, there are many influences on beliefs and opinions, including past experiences, educational background, upbringing and personality type.

Past experience is a key driver of an individual's view of ITIL. If an individual has been part of a successful ITIL process deployment, he or she has seen firsthand the powerful effect ITIL can have on the business overall. This will obviously make such people more inclined to support an ITIL effort.

Read the full tip, "ITIL process success: Get people on your side." Learn more in:

  • ITIL training essential part of IT and business integration
    As IT functions become more fully integrated into an organization's business objectives, the need for training across IT disciplines has become more important. Investments in ITIL training and certification are helping IT organizations align themselves better with the business.
  • ISO 20000 implementation: Addressing the common pitfalls
    The ISO 20000 global standard includes the necessary requirements for an organization employing an IT service management system. Learn how to overcome common ISO 20000 implementation mistakes.

CIOs not making time for business continuity planning

Many midsized to large companies have no business continuity plan. But it's not because they don't see the value in it.

They just can't seem to get around to doing it.

According to a survey sponsored by hardware and software vendor Hewlett-Packard Co., 55% of respondents said their companies couldn't agree on a technology solution for business continuity. Forty-nine percent said they simply didn't have time to plan. A lack of experienced internal resources was cited by 59% of respondents, and 34% said they lacked the data needed to make a business case for implementation.

Palo Alto, Calif.-based HP surveyed 564 IT decision makers at large and midsized companies.

Companies can overcome most of these obstacles by hiring technology vendors and outside expertise. "But a lack of management support and a lack of corporate priority, that's an inside sales job," said John Bennett, HP's worldwide director of business continuity and availability solutions.

Read the full article, "CIOs not making time for business continuity planning." Learn more:

Selling project management to your CEO

Many IT professionals swear by project management, yet that concept hasn't filtered up from the department level to the C-level, where projects and budgets are approved. But executives need to realize the value project management brings to the table so IT departments can justify the resources needed to implement projects. It may be a tough sell, but it's worth the effort.

"Project management should be the CEO's assurance that the project gets done on time and on budget, with structure and discipline around the expenditure," said Shabbir Merchant, director, internal audit department at San Francisco-based Charles Schwab & Co. A secondary, yet still important, objective for the project manager should be to standardize processes and make sure metrics are in place to measure success (or lack thereof).

"Right now, secondary objectives are gravy," Merchant said, "but they are becoming more integral, and increased emphasis on project management will be coming down the pipeline soon."

Learn more in the remainder of "Selling project management to your CEO." Also:

  • CIOs scramble for project managers
    The pressure to deliver projects on time and on budget puts project management skills atop the list of hiring priorities for many CIOs. But good project managers are hard to find.
  • The road to innovation is a bumpy ride
    What's the saying? The road to IT purgatory is paved with good intentions. A solid roadmap can help your company move from a mere success story to innovation central.

More IT leadership resources

This was first published in April 2007

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