Ingredients of a CIO

I have often wondered what characteristics make a good CIO. Books have been written about great leaders throughout history but can the same rules be applied to CIOs? Lui Sieh, in his blog, A Bottom’s Up View From a Pai Mei Guy, discusses “(Successful) IT People Characteristics”. Here, Lui lists nine characteristics that makes an IT person a success.

  1. Passion
  2. Self-teaching and love of learning
  3. Intelligence
  4. Hidden experience
  5. Variety of technologies
  6. (Lack of) Formal qualifications
  7. Self-confidence vs Hubris
  8. Star-Trek test
  9. Perseverance

Can the same be true for a CIO? Yes. But let’s go deeper. What are the key ingredients of a CIO? What is that “stuff” that makes a good CIO a great CIO?

  • Visionary-A CIO must look to the future and figure out a strategy on how to get there.
  • Pragmatic-A CIO must be sensibly and realistic in a way that is based on practical rather than theoretical considerations when dealing with issues.
  • Business Acumen-As a CIO you must interact with the business and therefore you must relate in business terms. You make business decisions about technology.
  • Motivator-As a CIO you must be able to motivate people.
  • Politician-As a CIO you must be able to deal with and navigate politics.
  • Leader- As a CIO you must be able to supervise, manage, and inspire people. Delegate assignments and ensure things get done.
  • Technophile – As a CIO you have to be wowed by technology. Let’s face it; we deal with cool types of technology everyday.

Being CIO takes a lot determination, special skills and characteristics to succeed. We have to walk the line between technology and business. A good CIO will be successful in developing these characteristics so that we can excel at our job. The job – to lead and maximize the leverage your firm gets from using technology.


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