Despite the importance of their work, chief information officers have difficulty earning respect from senior executives.
Ironically, information technology plays a vital role in an organization’s risk management and profits.
Two studies indicate there’s a widespread perception that IT pros need to get businesslike.
Like many advertising and marketing professionals, CIOs face a glass ceiling because they’re not seen as management peers at the conference-room decision-making table.
Have you ever noticed that IT people do not take the lead in strategic initiatives?
They do not convey that they understand the big pictures facing their employers.
They appear to be too task-oriented.
In other words, CIOs are stereotyped as not having soft skills. They often project the image that they only follow what’s at the end of their nose and that they get immersed in minute details.
How can a CIO acquire all the necessary skills to fix the problem?
What a CIO needs is a vision of how their IT department can best-serve their employer, which involves creating revenue.
Businesses generate more revenue if their information technology and marketing professionals work together to strategize more effectively.
For instance, success in e-commerce is increasingly challenging for companies that want to dominate in brand preference, customer loyalty and word-of-mouth advertising. (See the 4 Keys So Marketing and IT Can Create Business Revenue.)
Becoming assertive, not aggressive
Earning C-suite respect also calls for taking the initiative – being ahead of the pack in emerging technology and applications that benefit or complement a company’s strategic plans, assessing options, communicating strategies, developing strong relationships in and out of the company, and possessing self-marketing skills.
This really starts by being able to listen and asking relevant open-ended questions. Have you ever noticed the most-powerful people in a room often do the most listening?
A personal investment of time is required. Develop a strong familiarity with every business unit in the organization. That includes operations, marketing, sales, finance and human resources.
This is accomplished by asking colleagues for information about issues, challenges and goals. One good method is to ask a different peer to go to lunch every week.
Understand the CEO
CIOs also need to read what CEOs read, learn how they think, and emulate their abilities to compartmentalize and synthesize events and information to develop objectives.
IT pros need to become known in the CEOs’ eyes for having effective teaching skills. A good educator becomes the go-to person in any organization.
This requires the ability to sell ideas and information – to be able to explain what data and what developments mean to the firm. This can lead to strong relationships, which are imperative for universal respect.
(To learn the four best practices in persuading senior management, see: Complete Guide — How to Market Your Ideas to the CEO.)
If all of this was so easy, everyone would be doing it. Chip away at learning these skills and you will be on your way to earning more respect in the C-Suite.
From the Coach’s Corner, here’s a myriad of links to articles with tips CIOs might wish to consider:
“It’s not a faith in technology. It’s faith in people.”