Advice for First Time CIOs

I discussed in a previous post, 100 Days – A Secret IT Guide, steps that an IT executive should do during their first 100 days on the job.

Here is some more advice for first time CIOs and CTOs that helped me when I started.

1. Promote Yourself. Stop thinking about your old job and move on. You got the job now is the time to perform. Remember you have no reputation in the beginning. So now is the time to show them why they hired you. Prepare to take charge in your new role immediately and prioritize any of your vulnerabilities so that you can build a team that can help you overcome these vulnerabilities asap.

2. Build Your Team. Either inherit the team and change it or build a new team from scratch. Put in place processes that will allow the team to work together. I am strong believer in revamping existing teams. Moving people around, removing silos and building new. Your team will go through culture shock. Be prepared for grumblings. The end result will be worth it. The team structure will be stronger. Do not be afraid to deal with under-performers.

3. Put Together a Game Plan. Sit down with your team one on one with a list of questions that you have. Getting input from different levels helps you learn quickly. Also, sit down with your CEO and other lines of business and ask questions. It is best to get their input.

4. Secure Early Wins. Set priorities and build personal credibility by securing early wins. This will set your reputation as a performer and someone that can accomplish tasks. Also, you must create a compelling vision that is easily communicated.

5. Meet Everyone. Building a productive working relationship with the business is essential and where many CIOs fail. Start Day One! Get out from behind your desk and meet everyone. People will appreciate your efforts.

6. Build Coalitions. You can’t get things done by authority alone. You might have the title but not the reputation to get things done. You need to understand where the informal power resides and build coalitions with these people in order to get your agenda accomplished. (Read my post: The Clique: As CIO Are You Part of It?)

7. Stay Focused. When taking over, everything will need to be completed today, it is important to take time to make sure you are focused on the right objectives and goals. Constantly do a self-appraisal (Read my post: Self-Appraisal: Keeping Your Career Focused) of yourself. In addition, find people in your network that you can turn to outside of the company for advice and counsel.

8. Assess the Culture. To be a successful CIO you must assess and analyze a company’s existing culture. Then you must reinforce elements of that culture. (Read my post: Culture – CIO to CIO)

Being a new CIO is a great achievement. If you take the time to understand your career you can be a good CIO and a great leader. Enjoy your new role and good luck…

4 thoughts on “Advice for First Time CIOs

  1. Excellent post, Arun. Compare some of the points I make in my blog post “The Perils of a New CTO Position”, at

    One extension and/or strong agreement with respect to your points 3 and 5: I’ve found it very useful, for many reasons, to meet with everyone in the IT organization one-on-one, not just my direct reports. Figuring out what’s really going on requires this kind of triangulation, to put it mildly. It also lets you assess your team, up and down.

    • Peter,
      Thanks for the comment. And thanks for sending a link to you blog. Great advice for first time CIOs/CTOs. We should issue a manual of all the things we need to accomplish during these crucial few days.

  2. Pingback: CIO Canada Links: Twitter as a CIO’s executive coach | CIO Canada

  3. Pingback: CIO Canada Links: Twitter as a CIO’s executive coach - CIO Canada - IT World Canada

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