In 2010’s The CIO Edge: Seven Leadership Skills You Need to Drive Results, the authors argued that the most important skills CIOs must possess are leadership and people skills.
Eight years on in 2018, CIOs said their number 1 goal was still to be a better leader. CIOs said they want their team to be a partner, not a cost center. And they wanted to enable digitally talented people across their organization.
Clearly, there has been a strong intention for some time towards leadership and people development. So it’s disappointing to note in this CIOs guidance that 87% of respondents said they’re still juggling standard IT operational tasks.
So, what’s going wrong? Why aren’t CIOs able to apply themselves properly to their main priorities?
Why CIOs can’t focus on leadership
In CIO.com Contributing Writer Stacey Collett provides some more CIOs guidance. She talks about the “gravitational pull of security issues, budget battles, and system and architecture headaches” that is zapping CIOs’ time.
This is based on the 2018 State of the CIO survey, which found that the top issues affecting CIOs are:
- Security management
- Aligning IT with business goals
- Improving systems performance and controlling costs
- Implementing new systems and architecture
- Leading change efforts and driving innovation
Half of CIOs surveyed said the bulk of their time is spent aligning IT with business goals. In today’s digital revolution, this is a never-ending task.
CIOs have to stay ahead of the curve, identifying technology that is going to improve the way their enterprise does business. They also need to improve systems performance and ensure ROI.
Then there are the CIOs (a third) that spend most of their time implementing new systems and architecture to support the business. And a third of CIOs say they’re actively involved in leading change efforts.
It’s no wonder there’s precious little time left to focus on leadership.
CIOs guidance: hone these skills to improve your leadership by 2020
So as we head closer to 2020, we’re offering the following CIOs guidance. Focus on developing these abilities in order to improve your people and leadership skills.
Commit to leadership first
Back in 2010, Gartner and Korn/Ferry’s research revealed that top performing CIOs embrace the idea that their accomplishments will only be achieved through people. They focus on leadership first and everything else is secondary to that.
Committing to leadership first takes a lot of discipline though. You may have to reevaluate your ways of working. But if ever there was a time to do that, it’s at the start of a new year.
1. Let go
Delegate. Nurture your team and allow them to take ownership of some of the tasks that are eating up your time.
As Gartner says, “By developing people all around them, these CIOs increase their capability and capacity to deliver results.”
2. Educate yourself
In the digital revolution, it’s never been more important to continue to learn. Things are changing all the time, so you need to stay abreast of developments in order to remain relevant.
Learn how to speed read and reevaluate how you take notes. There is an art to learning effectively and you could do well to brush up on it.
3. Work smarter, not harder
What resources are out there to help you? If you’re in the third of CIOs who spend the bulk of their time managing change or implementing new systems, find tools to facilitate these processes for you.
If your team is spending too much time troubleshooting and dealing with support requests, use a Digital Adoption Platform.
4. Effective communication
Effective communication is the cornerstone of all great leadership. Understand that it’s about so much more than just speaking.
High performing CIOs need to be able to actively listen and get to the heart of matters quickly. They need to be able to engage and inspire their team. And communicate new ideas to stakeholders in a persuasive way.
A focus on digital adoption
Being a CIO today is tough. You’re experiencing the pressures of digital transformation and constant change, as well as traditional operational duties and leading a team.
The bottom line is that, in nearly a decade, CIOs priorities have not changed. People and leadership were of top importance for success in 2010 and they remain CIOs’ main goals in 2018. However, they’re being squeezed out by other responsibilities.
Clearly, something needs to change.
A focus on digital adoption can ease ongoing transformational efforts. A tech-forward approach to managing adoption can also eradicate problems associated with onboarding users.
So if you’re not already using a digital adoption tool, our CIOs guidance is that now’s the time. Then by 2020, we can see if your time is still divided between the issues presented by 2018.