Seven Leadership Skills CIOs Need to Drive Results

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Seven Leadership Skills CIOs Need to Drive Results

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Technology is the single most powerful enabling force available in business today, but as executives and boards of directors recognize its potential, CIOs must have the right leadership skills in place to deliver on heightened expectations, according to Gartner, Inc. and Korn/Ferry.

In the recently published book “The CIO Edge – Seven Leadership Skills You Need To Drive Results”, (Harvard Business Review Press November, 2010, $29.95), Graham Waller, vice president and executive partner with Gartner Executive Programs; George Hallenbeck, director, intellectual property development for Korn/Ferry Leadership and Talent Consulting; and Karen Rubenstrunk, formerly with Korn/Ferry’s CIO practice, examine the key skills CIOs need and how to develop them.

“CIOs understand they need to manage IT processes in order to deliver results and to meet key expectations. They also understand the need to lead people in order to deliver on those goals. However, what many don’t understand is the incredibly important interplay between the two,” said Mr. Waller. “Focusing on leadership and people skills - the ‘soft’ things that many CIOs tend to minimize in their quest to keep up with their day-to-day responsibilities of managing IT - is in fact the biggest determinate of their success, or failure.”

IT executives who have the best relationships and can earn ‘followership,’ not only with their employees, but more importantly with their business partners within and outside the organization, tend to make the most effective business technology executives.

“During the course of our research, we observed the CIOs with the best people skills used these soft skills to influence expectations well ahead of when priorities were set or a project began,” Mr. Hallenbeck said. “Before a dime was budgeted, or staff time allocated, they were meeting with their colleagues and engaging in candid two-way conversations that defined what success would look like. Then they delivered against the expectations they helped set and as a result, the organization felt the investment of time and money in IT was worth it. Soft skills produced hard results.”

Following three years of data-driven research, Mr. Waller, Mr. Hallenbeck and Ms. Rubenstrunk distilled their findings down to the behavioral patterns and key skills they believe to be the most critical to success. Specifically, high-performing CIOs distinguish themselves by mastering the seven skills highlighted in this slideshow.

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