Successful CIOs: Practice Beats Personality - InformationWeek

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IT Leadership // CIO Insights & Innovation
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Susan Fogarty
Susan Fogarty

Successful CIOs: Practice Beats Personality

Deloitte's Global CIO study found that common behaviors, not personal qualities, differentiate IT leaders in high-performing businesses.

The CIO is a powerful role, with the unique opportunity to propel their organizations forward by meshing technology with business needs. But not all CIOs are created equal. What sets the most successful IT leaders apart from the pack and gives them the edge over their peers?

Khalid Kark, Managing Director of Deloitte's CIO Program, has studied this question at length and published the findings in Deloitte's Global CIO Survey. Kark and his colleagues surveyed or interviewed 1,217 CIOs in 48 countries to understand the commonalities between those who excel and those who fall behind.

They discovered that while it's human nature to attribute success to personal charisma, it's the day-to-day practices and processes that CIOs instill in their organizations that have the biggest impact. At Interop ITX last month, Kark shared specific behaviors that are common to high-performing companies and their CIOs. Hear more in this video interview:

In fact, Deloitte's data revealed three distinct categories of IT leaders across industries and geographies. Each group had different priorities, relationships, investment philosophies, and focused on a different set of capabilities for their IT teams. The first category was the "trusted operator," who is most concerned with maintaining reliable service levels for their company. Second, Deloitte identified the "change instigator," one who is focused on driving change, both within IT and beyond to the larger organization. The third category was termed the "business co-creator," who is focused on creating revenue, growth, and new potential products and services.

It's probably no surprise that the third group of CIOs – those most aligned with big-picture business priorities and opportunities – tend to work in companies that perform the best financially. As a group, these CIOs shared the following behaviors, according to Kark:

  • They would rather spend a dollar on growth than save a dollar.
  • They spent more time delving into cybersecurity and risk.
  • They identified technology innovation and disruption as a key driver of business growth.

It's also important to note, said Kark, that high-performing CIOs also worked in environments that placed a big emphasis on talent development and retention. They spent a significant amount of time and effort, not only on recruitment, but on continually engaging team members and serving as a mentor.

Related reading:

Susan Fogarty has almost two decades of experience writing and developing content for IT professionals, especially those deeply involved in enterprise network infrastructure. She previously worked at TechTarget, where she spent 11 years, six as the Editorial Director of its ... View Full Bio
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User Rank: Moderator
6/28/2017 | 11:26:38 AM
Successful CIOs
Interesting article and survey. However, my near half century in IT gives me a perspective of CIOs and the first thing to note is that no man is an island. Without a competent team below him/her, very little will succeed. One trait that is thus necesary for a CIO is the ability to lead and motivate this team.

In addition, 'driving change'for the sake of change is not always a good idea. I have seen apparently successful CIos who are in actual fact a front to a very competent No. 2 int the team. When a new CIO appears with little knowledge of the actual  business and looks successful in IT supporting it, this is a sure sign that a No.2 (and 3, 4 retc) is involved.

Never make the mistake of attibuting all success in IT supporting the business to a single CIO since it is a team game.
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