One of the items that can make a CIO a success is the ability to be a part of the leadership team. Every firm has its own defined leadership team. As CIO you should be part of this team.
Within the leadership team there is yet another clique. The people in this club are the real power. They are the decision makers and power brokers. As CIO you might be part of the leadership team but not part of this clique. As CIO it is important to be a member of this clique-if nothing else but to successfully carry out your agenda.
The point of the clique is access-access to information, gossip, and politics. For example, I often had lunch with my CEO and COO-a privileged not given out to many. Not a formal scheduled lunch but more ad-hoc; a quick bite at the local diner. Therefore, it was a special honor to have lunch with them and engage in conversation. When I say conversation, I am not talking about the usually pleasantries about last night’s ball game, but conversations only heard by a few. The inner sanctum if you wish. This level of relationship is formed over time once trust, respect, and loyalty are built (loyalty being key). You should not expect to have these conversations immediately.
Becoming part of this clique is vital because most of a company’s operations are conducted outside of documented processes. Yes, I said it. If this comes as a shock then you are truly an outsider. Yes, there are processes in place but once you have these informal pre-conversations then pre-approval is granted. So the documented process is just a matter of dotting your ‘I’s and crossing your ‘T’s. This is important to further your agenda. I have seen IT executives at all levels fail to have these pre-conversations with the key power brokers – leading to problems and even failure.
If the CEO or COO searches you out to talk about non-business issues then chances are you are in a good position. Don’t abuse this position. As quickly as it comes it can also be quickly taken away.
As CIO you must be an executive officer-a leader, not only in title (those five letters in chief hold meaning and prominence), but also in how you carry yourself and act. The position of Chief Information Officer is an executive one. While you could say you are part of the team are you really part of the clique?