Do you wonder why there are so many definitions of leadership and a vast number of books on the subject? It is probably because nobody has been able to really define leadership, which has led to many perspectives on this complex concept. From my perspective, true leadership drives business performance at four organisational levels — people, customers, performance excellence and growth — for all levels of leader, whether CEO, COO, CFO, CIO or any other.
Leadership can be understood by analysing and understanding leaders’ motivations, beliefs and values, and their underpinning consciousness of experience and self. Let’s open the aperture for a more expansive view towards a ‘full spectrum’ approach to deep consciousness within a framework that combines seven imperatives of leadership.
First, let’s understand and assess whether the organisation’s vision demands a new or improved level of business leadership and whether there is a genuine executive commitment to business transformation that will drive the organisation forward. Assuming an appetite for business growth, leadership then comes down to the level of commitment of the leader, and reflects the personal consciousness of the leadership team. Consequently, organisational transformation begins with personal transformation of leaders at all levels, which is the basis of leadership skills development.
An effective CIO business leader will have gained a good set of business, process, people and technology competencies. Only when a business leader has mastered these competencies through experience will he or she be able to rise to ‘full spectrum leadership’. Less important is their particular industry background and whether they have high level academic qualifications.
A successful CIO at all levels — leading the business (people, change, business process integration, governance, risk, compliance), information management and assurance, applications and technical infrastructure — will raise the bar to deliver better results, sometimes at ramp speed. Full spectrum leadership provides a platform for sustainability, growth, value and business agility.
Full spectrum leadership collectively widens the definition of a skilled, experienced and successful business leader, and should be a top priority for a CEO to ensure the business can be sustained, grow, be trusted and deliver true value to customers in a competitive global market.
Full spectrum leadership is a new concept of how business expects leaders to behave across the business spectrum. It is not only about being strategic, tactical and operational. It is also about achieving the best results in a culture of respect and reward. Individuals look to their business leaders as role models, so it’s important that leaders demonstrate inclusive behaviour, communicate vision and mission clearly and openly to build commitment, and educate their team about diversity and inclusion. It will create an environment where employees will develop professionally and feel welcome and respected.
Full spectrum leaders are not only solid performers, exhibiting strong leadership behaviours, getting results, meeting objectives, and putting numbers on the board, they also demonstrate great interpersonal and communication skills that enthuse and energise employees, stimulate teamwork, drive a sense of purpose and direction, inspire trust, and broadly promote the organisation. They integrate well across the business to achieve results perceived as real. They sustain as much as grow, they ensure lasting alignment to the overall culture and the way the organisation does business. Full spectrum leaders have outstanding performance and behaviour attributes, not just one or the other.
For CIOs, the approach demands intimate understanding of the business model, its market position and internal challenges, and ability to apply this knowledge. It also requires the ability to innovate, such as developing new business capability that will add value for customers, gain exceptional competitive advantage or expand the customer base to a new market. CIOs must examine strategic possibilities and synthesise the strategic direction and vision. They must understand customer requirements and values in order to shape their needs. They must create and implement new and innovative capabilities, and articulate the steps for changes necessary for their fruition. Characteristics of full spectrum leadership include:
- Leadership development throughout the organisation.
- Deep personal consciousness and awareness.
- Detailed and open self-assessment.
Creativity is welcomed, the leadership aperture is widened, skills are sharpened across the entire leadership team to enable meeting of challenges, and business and personal performance is improved to unprecedented levels.
Management and leadership are essential for a successful business, but they are not the same. Managers deal with complexity, promoting stability and order in the organisation.
Leaders deal with and, as necessary, stimulate change, charting new directions, building coalitions, and motivating people to act. Great leaders have the ability to create a vibrant culture of leadership, infusing desire and the drive to excel in every teammate and throughout the network.
Bruce Carlos is CIO for the Australian Fashion Guide and has a strong background in business transformation, strategic reform, mergers & acquisitions (business growth), shared services, business aligned IT and information security. He is a founding member of the CIO Executive Council of Australia and has previously held CIO roles at Raytheon Australia and CenITex and a proud supporter of “Women in Technology” program. He can be contacted on firstname.lastname@example.org.