So how do you react when a CEO tells you to stay in the box? "If your boss tells you that you can't reorganize or fire people, then develop strategies for transformation and present them as what you believe should be done," he says. "Develop a strategy and sell it, even if you can't execute."
Put a premium on trust. When you work as an interim CIO in a consulting capacity, people can be very forthcoming with you because they consider you outside the political fray," says Bunker. "When you make the switch from interim to permanent, it can be a real shock to people who have spoken more openly with you than they would have if you were a full time employee."
If you want your peers to support your permanent appointment, you need to make it clear when you're acting CIO that they will be able to trust you should you wind up in the permanent role.
Pay attention to the step below peer-level. Consultant Jim Ward was named acting CIO of logistics company Pacer International in December 2006. He was asked to run IT as the company conducted an external CIO search. Five months later, the company's CEO asked him to take the full-time job.
When Jim took the interim job, he was not planning to work full-time, but he liked the company and the challenges it faced, so he decided to accept. His advice: While it is true that the opinions of your C level peers are a critical factor in determining whether you are right for the position, you cannot ignore the next level down.
"I spent much less time with senior management than I did with the business getting things done," he says of his interim period. "If you're helping managers run their businesses, they will filter that message all the way up. If the managers are not happy with you, you will probably not get the job."
Be prepared to work for a new CIO. When the CIO of Covance left the drug development services company in June 2005, John Repko, then VP of global applications at the company, was named his interim successor and given the permanent role the following January. Not only did Repko need to survive an external search, he was asked to participate in the selection of the permanent CIO. The situation was unique and challenging for Repko, but he defined an approach for himself and stuck with it.
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