Two: Speak the Language of the Business.Everyone's talking about the "strategic CIO," but is everyone ready? Maybe not. That's why you need to sharpen your communication skills — and work for a CEO who supports today's version of the CIO role.
CIO: I don't know of any CIO or CEO who would disagree with the need for CIOs to drive business value. But not everyone is succeeding in doing that. Do CEOs really mean what they say about their CIOs?
Patrick: CEOs all read the same Harvard Business Review articles. They all want "strategic CIOs." But often they are not sure what to do with them and how to best leverage the talent and expertise these individuals can bring.
Gupta: While everyone wants this strategic role, both sides are not quite sure if the CIO is ready. The test I pose to CIOs is, Can they talk to the management committee and outside stakeholders in a language that doesn't label them as a CIO? That's the test of credibility.
The CEO isn't quite ready as well. They are so engaged in keeping the business running that they have trouble finding time to give the CIO the opportunity to be a strategic business driver. They must have commitment and belief and not just talk the talk.
CIO: Bob, as our representative CEO, how do you respond to that?
Badavas: CEOs have the company they deserve. If I say get out of the office and don't give you a travel budget, who are we kidding? I can't say IT is important if I'm cutting initiatives that could enhance the value of our infrastructure. I can't pontificate on how you should transform yourself if I'm not willing to make a personal investment. My responsibility to all my direct reports is to have an environment that allows them to blossom to their full extent, and to allow them to make mistakes. I owe them the opportunity to grow and to be part of my succession plan. I have had conversations with them that start "If you want to be a CEO someday. . ."
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