Basic Beliefs of Effective CIOs

Here’s an interesting question: what are your beliefs as a CIO? Not your religious beliefs but your professional beliefs. What are you doing to build yourself as well as those who work for you?

That’s an issue pondered by Gary Davenport, president of the CIO Association of Canada. He writes in a blog post at IT Canada, “A core set of principles and beliefs will help keep today’s CIOs – and their teams – centered and effective.”

He continues, “For CIOs, expectations have never been higher. The pace of technology and business change has multiplied and the margin for missteps has been dramatically reduced. As technology champions, we are expected to focus on the productive use of information technology within our respective businesses to improve customer experience, reduce costs and enable growth.

“As business leaders, we are driven to understand the challenges and opportunities to make positive and meaningful contributions leveraging our internal teams, our external partners and our key stakeholders.”

Davenport then suggests these 10 beliefs of effective CIOs:

  1. Know yourself (Emotional Intelligence)
  2. Do to others as you would have them do to you (Trust, Integrity & Respect)
  3. Provide a sense of vision and mission for your team (Perspective, Context & Elevation)
  4. Communicate well and often (Communicator)
  5. Get the right people on the “bus” and then get them in the right seats (Team Builder)
  6. Confront the brutal facts of reality with an unfaltering belief in a positive outcome (Realistic & Positive)
  7. Provide open and honest feedback in a respectful and helpful manner (Coach)
  8. Develop your people for their own good and the greater good of the organization (Team Player)
  9. Never stop stretching, learning and growing (Self Development)
  10. Take the time to “smell the roses” and have some fun along the way (Genuine & Energetic)

Tony Hamilton, Principal Product Marketing Consultant, SAS, also tackled the issue in a blog he wrote for SAS called 7 analytics habits of highly effective CIOs. It’s a good look at beliefs successful CIOs should incorporate, too.

His seven habits of highly effective CIOs are:

  • Take an active role in the use of analytics. Be a champion and a supporter of these efforts inside the organization. Be able to articulate the organization’s analytics strategy and IT’s role.
  • Establish IT as a trusted adviser for analytical methods and experts. Don’t be seen a roadblock to analytics initiatives, but a helper. Get involved in the conversations taking place between line-of-business people and analytics specialists.
  • Set the foundation in IT to support analytics in the enterprise. Enable technology that help the lines of business use analytics for business benefit.
  • Gather, integrate and normalize diverse data sets. Help establish the ground rules for version control and single point of truth.
  • If possible, create data advisory boards and steering teams. Teamwork matters. Give everyone a chance to participate.
  • Help the business measure and assess outcomes from analytical projects. Metrics matter for any joint strategy approach.
  • Share the story around analytics experiences. Let everyone know, from the CEO on down, how IT and the business are working together and how that has helped the company become an analytics achiever.

Both Hamilton and Davenport are proponents of team building as a basic belief. Davenport calls it getting everyone on the bus while Hamilton is a proponent of steering teams. No matter what you call it, teamwork is a necessary belief for successful CIOs.
Communications would also be an important belief, too. Hamilton touts the necessity of its use as an effective promotion tool for your work while Davenport points to it as invaluable for building a stronger team.

Whatever your core professional beliefs, one thing to take away from reading both these men is to believe in and promote your team. It could be your most effective belief of all.

Keith Griffin
Keith Griffin is an award-winning business writer and editor with more than 30 years experience as a journalist. His work has been published in The Boston Globe, Medical Economist, Good Housekeeping, About.com, the Hartford Courant, CT Law Tribune and numerous other regional publications.