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CIO in the Round

CIO in the Round

Reader Q&A

Q: Can you outline other "competency companions" and explain how they boost the perception of leadership?

A: In The Extraordinary Leader, by John Zenger and Joseph Folkman, the authors identify competency companions for 16 key leadership behaviours. A few of the more interesting examples include the following:

• Assertiveness. Leaders who want to increase their character ratings should examine whether they have an issue with assertiveness. To receive strong integrity scores, the CIO must deliver on his commitments. This requires being assertive about fixing problems and ensuring that others are delivering as well.

• Risk taking. Leaders who set stretch goals that others can believe in and achieve are also strong in risk taking. By taking more risks and learning from them, CIOs will feel more comfortable setting stretch goals and, thereby, deliver more to the organization.

• Self development. Leaders who are strong in developing others are also strong in developing themselves. CIOs who want to improve their ability to coach and mentor others should start by working on themselves.

Q: What strategies do you recommend for overcoming "fatal flaws"?

A: Fatal flaws can derail careers. There are three challenges to overcoming fatal flaws. First, there is often a lack of understanding regarding the true nature of the flaw. Quantitative 360-degree surveys are wonderful for identifying the issue, but it's often necessary to conduct interviews in order to fully understand it. Second, the fatal flaw may be due to a mismatch among talent, motivators, goals and the organization's needs. A leader in the wrong job can easily exhibit one or more fatal flaws. Third, once the flaw is understood, it is important for the individual to receive on-the-job coaching and frequent feedback and to be held accountable for making the necessary behaviour changes. Many companies use external coaches to help leaders "intervene" on behaviours that are derailing their careers.

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