When all hell is breaking loose, when the network is crashing and the servers are smoking, what CIO hasn't imagined himself or herself as Superman or Wonder Woman, bravely reaching into the fire to save the business's bacon? Admit it: The fantasy of being the irreplaceable figure to whom everyone turns for leadership is enthralling, even thrilling.
And being the lone leader is great . . . if you possess superhuman powers, such as the ability to be in two places at one time. But most IT executives understand that they are merely mortal, and the smart ones understand that no leader stands alone, that a leader is only as good as his or her team. So the most successful CIOs make developing leaders at all levels of their organization a strategic priority.
What do the CIOs of tomorrow want from their leaders today? CIOs should spend less time playing Superman and more time managing and developing staff
So what do the CIOs of tomorrow want from their leaders today? CIOs should spend less time playing Superman and more time managing and developing staff. They may not be superheroes, but they're achieving super results.
This article outlines the traits of five US CIOs outlined as standout winners from the US CIO Ones to Watch awards. The Ones to Watch awards honours CIOs who have excelled in leading innovation, business strategy, project execution, team building or organizational change.
The Change Agent: Vince Mancuso
Vince Mancuso, deputy CIO of the US-based Air Force Reserve Command (AFRC), says it's hard to say which came first — his role as a leader or as a change agent — but there is a symbiotic relationship between the two. His most significant achievement is turning around the ReserveNet initiative, a Web-based system for managing scheduling and readiness training of Air Force Reserve personnel. Within three months he assembled a technical team, built and fixed failed applications, and stabilized the infrastructure. He also restored confidence in IT's ability to deliver core mission applications to front-line users. Mancuso says the successful execution of ReserveNet's turnaround comes from his ability to identify a challenge and then articulate a plan that all stakeholders can understand and buy in to. It doesn't hurt that he is fluent in business and technology, which is critical to any transformational leader. "You don't have to be the expert, but you need to be conversant at all levels," he says. Adds Colonel John Hayes, AFRC's CIO, "He's an effective change agent that translates vision into focused solutions that streamline our organization".
Tip: A change agent's power is derived from the stakeholders. Without valuable solutions, that power becomes insignificant.
The Innovator: Wayne Haughey
Innovation requires creativity and a certain level of risk. "The greatest innovation challenges are often not technical, but [have to do with] the ability to embrace change," says Wayne Haughey, director of systems engineering at US-based Pulte Homes.
Haughey's talent for innovation has shown itself in his ability to conceive and lead projects at Pulte that drive business value for the company and break new ground in the IT-shy homebuilding industry. He says he has pushed the envelope by first assessing the company's readiness for innovation before unleashing an initiative. This approach has helped him successfully implement projects that are industry leaders, including the Global Integration Factory, which centralizes and controls all data for Pulte Homes for a cost savings of $US10 million annually; Pulte Home Builder Suite, the first enterprise homebuilder ERP suite in North America; and the homebuilding industry's largest sales process and sales system integration of lead management, campaign management and CRM, delivered through Siebel OnDemand. CIO Jerry Batt cited Haughey for "driving industry-leading innovation and change through the entire corporation" while building IT's credibility as a trusted business partner.
Tip: Continuous assessment and improvement is the key to making innovation work.
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