As a senior executive I am expected to know everything related to my department. That is the nature of the beast. For anyone that has managed a successful MIS group, you know that is virtually impossible. IT is a very broad discipline. Being a CIO, I am pulled in a several different directions sometimes at the same time. Having the ability to manage everything means surrounding myself with people that can manage their core areas successfully and that can handle the details – especially the small ones. This takes the burden off of the CIO and allows him/her to focus on broader more business centric issues.
The problem most CIOs have is they come from a background where they feel they need to know the granular details of the technology they support. The “geek” emerges. As CIO, your function is to lead and show value. Leave the technical stuff to those that want to do the technical stuff.
The office of the CIO is too big a role for one person; the success of the department can be tied to the people whom the CIO recruits. Successful CIOs keep their inner circle populated by people whose skills and intelligence can serve and benefit them — people who professionally complement their own skill set.