20 Influential Chief Information Officers

20 Influential Chief Information Officers from Michael Krigsman

As the Chief Information Officer role become increasingly prominent, it is important to recognize CIOs who actively stake a claim as innovators and communicators.

At CXOTALK, we bring together leaders who embody the qualities of leadership, innovation, and positive disruption.

To develop this list of 20 Influential Chief Information Officers, we relied on Little Bird, a marketing platform that uses social network analysis to identify top influencers among their peers. At the time of selection, every person in this group was active as CIO for a respected organization.

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What It Means To Be A Leader — EXECUTIVE CORE QUALIFICATIONS

Leadership and TeamworkA basic requirement for entry into senior roles within the Federal Government you must provide evidence of progressively responsible leadership experience that is indicative of senior executive level management capability. The information below was taken from the USAJobs.gov website. Every leader, whether or not they are looking for a job in government should be able to answer these questions. It should also be used to rate a CIOs performance.

ECQ #1 – LEADING CHANGE:  This core qualification involves the ability to bring about strategic change, both within and outside the organization, to meet organizational goals. Inherent to this ECQ is the ability to establish an organizational vision and to implement it in a continuously changing environment.

Leadership Competencies:

1. Creativity and Innovation.  Develops new insights into situations; questions conventional approaches; encourages new ideas and innovations; designs and implements new or cutting edge programs/processes.

2. External Awareness.  Understands and keeps up-to-date on local, national, and international policies and trends that affect the organization and shape stakeholders’ views; is aware of the organization’s impact on the external environment.

3. Flexibility.  Is open to change and new information; rapidly adapts to new information, changing conditions, or unexpected obstacles.

4. Resilience.  Deals effectively with pressure; remains optimistic and persistent, even under adversity. Recovers quickly from setbacks.

5. Strategic Thinking.  Formulates objectives and priorities, and implements plans consistent with the long-term interests of the organization in a global environment. Capitalizes on opportunities and manages risks.

6. Vision.  Takes a long-term view and builds a shared vision with others; acts as a catalyst for organizational change. Influences others to translate vision into action.

ECQ #2 – LEADING PEOPLE: This core qualification involves the ability to lead people toward meeting the organization’s vision, mission, and goals. Inherent to this ECQ is the ability to provide an inclusive workplace that fosters the development of others, facilitates cooperation and teamwork, and supports constructive resolution of conflicts.

Leadership Competencies:

1. Conflict Management.  Encourages creative tension and differences of opinions. Anticipates and takes steps to prevent counter-productive confrontations. Manages and resolves conflicts and disagreements in a constructive manner.

2. Leveraging Diversity.  Fosters an inclusive workplace where diversity and individual differences are valued and leveraged to achieve the vision and mission of the organization.

3. Developing Others.  Develops the ability of others to perform and contribute to the organization by providing ongoing feedback and by providing opportunities to learn through formal and informal methods.

4. Team Building.  Inspires and fosters team commitment, spirit, pride, and trust. Facilitates cooperation and motivates team members to accomplish group goals.

ECQ #3 – RESULTS DRIVEN: This core qualification involves the ability to meet organizational goals and customer expectations. Inherent to this ECQ is the ability to make decisions that produce high-quality results by applying technical knowledge, analyzing problems, and calculating risks.

Leadership Competencies:

1. Accountability.  Holds self and others accountable for measurable high-quality, timely, and cost-effective results. Determines objectives, sets priorities, and delegates work. Accepts responsibility for mistakes. Complies with established control systems and rules.

2. Customer Service.  Anticipates and meets the needs of both internal and external customers. Delivers high-quality products and services; is committed to continuous improvement.

3. Decisiveness.  Makes well-informed, effective, and timely decisions, even when data are limited or solutions produce unpleasant consequences; perceives the impact and implications of decisions.

4. Entrepreneurship.  Positions the organization for future success by identifying new opportunities; builds the organization by developing or improving products or services. Takes calculated risks to accomplish organizational objectives.

5. Problem Solving.  Identifies and analyzes problems; weighs relevance and accuracy of information; generates and evaluates alternative solutions; makes recommendations.

6. Technical Credibility.  Understands/appropriately applies principles, procedures, requirements, regulations and policies related to specialized expertise.

ECQ #4 – BUSINESS ACUMEN: This core qualification involves the ability to manage human, financial, and information resources strategically.

Leadership Competencies:

1. Financial Management.  Understands the organization’s financial processes. Prepares, justifies, and administers the program budget. Oversees procurement and contracting to achieve desired results. Monitors expenditures and uses cost-benefit thinking to set priorities.

2. Human Capital Management.  Builds and manages workforce based on organizational goals, budget considerations, and staffing needs. Ensures that employees are appropriately recruited, selected, appraised, and rewarded; takes action to address performance problems. Manages a multi-sector workforce and a variety of work situations.

3. Technology Management.  Keeps up-to-date on technological developments. Makes effective use of technology to achieve results. Ensures access to and security of technology systems.

ECQ #5 – BUILDING COALITIONS: This core qualification involves the ability to build coalitions internally and with other Federal agencies, State and local governments, nonprofit and private sector organizations, foreign governments, or international organizations to achieve common goals.

Leadership Competencies:

1. Partnering.  Develops networks and builds alliances; collaborates across boundaries to build strategic relationships and achieve common goals.

2. Political Savvy.  Identifies the internal and external politics that impact the work of the organization. Perceives organizational and political reality and acts accordingly.

3. Influencing/Negotiating.  Persuades others; builds consensus through give and take; gains cooperation from others to obtain inform

From the Other Side of the Table — CIO Questions to Potential Employers

meetingsSitting on the opposite end on the board room table, CIOs need to understand the type of organization they will be joining. Having been on the other end several times, it is important to get a sense that you will be valuable as a CIO and most importantly have job satisfaction. Below are a few questions I think can help.

  • What is your company’s mission and vision? What steps are you taking to accomplish them?
  • Can you explain your company’s brand and how it has evolved?
  • Can you describe your company’s growth (or lack there of) in terms of revenue and hiring over the last 5-10 years?
  • What do you think distinguishes this company from its competitors, both from a public and employee perspective? How is technology used by your competitors? How is a CIO role used by your competitors?
  • Can you explain your company’s structure and how a CIO role will fit in?
  • How do you see the CIO role contributing to the success of the organization?
  • Is this a new CIO position, or did someone leave? If someone left, why did they leave? If this is a new position why are you looking for a CIO now?
  • How would you describe the company’s culture and leadership philosophy and style? Could you describe the type of employee who fits well with it?
  • What are some of the technical problems facing your staff, and how to do you see the CIO role solving it?
  • How is the technology department perceived today? What past steps have been taken to correct this perception? What steps were successful or not?
  • What steps have the company done recently to show how it values its technology?
  • How does management view the CIO role and the importance of the IT department?
  • What is the company’s plan for the next five plus years, and how does the IT department fit into these plans?
  • How do other executives view IT?  As a Business Peer/Game changer or Service Provider/Cost Center?
  • How have various types of decisions been made (i.e. M&A, process changes, layoffs, loss of business, risks, new business)?
  • How will my leadership responsibilities and performance be measured? By whom? How often?
  • What would you say are the five most important skills/traits needed to excel in this position?
  • What particular achievements would equate to success in this role? What would success look like?
  • What challenges will this role face? What advice will you give to succeed?
  • Are you most interested in a candidate who works independently, on a team, cross-functionally, or through a combination of them all?
  • What is your ideal communication style? Do you meet regularly with your team, rely heavily on e-mail, use status reports or work primarily through other means?
  • How much guidance or assistance is made available to employees in developing career goals?
  • What resources will be available to the CIO to ensure success?
  • How do you see me as a candidate for the job in comparison with an ideal candidate?
  • Do you have any concerns about me or about my qualifications that may prevent you from selecting me for the role?

Barbarians At The Datacenter

The Chief Executive OfficerAs I continue to look for my new CIO role. I am coming across some organizations that are looking outside their respect industry for talent. I recently interviewed with a publishing company who said flat out they want someone not from the publishing world. “Why?” I asked.  They felt that publishing expertise is lagging behind other industries in their use of technology.  I have seen other firms looking for these barbarians to manage their data. It is a refreshing thought.

This is a great opportunity for an organization to bring onboard an innovative disruptor to shake things up. As I have said in the past, change to some extent is good for any organization. As technology marches forward can any CIO say they are an expert in all areas?  Will a CIO have the experience to try new things? To take chances in order to make progress? These are fundamental questions for any CEO or CIO to contemplate.

I strongly believe that a CIO’s developed skills in one industry can be transferred successfully to another industry. Who’s to say that a medical CIO’s experience cannot be used in publishing? Granted there will be a learning curve, but there will be a learning curve for anyone taking on a new leadership role.

It might be scary for some who find comfort in knowing their respective industry inside and out. Myself- I believe that I am that barbarian that looks for new challenges. Working in different industries allows me to increase my marketability and continue to add to my toolbox.

The Questions That Get Interesting Looks

2136954235_35424aa0bcI have been actively interviewing.  While it has been an interesting time to look for a senior level role I have been cautious about the organizations I have been interviewing with. I have come to realize that some organizations still do not see IT has a strategic tool but purely at a utility with no real long-term value. It is these organizations that I try to stay away from and recently have passed on further interviewing.

I use the initial interview to really get a sense of the organization. And if there are any red flags politely decline further interviews. Here are some of the questions I have asked during the interview:

  • Is technology a component of the business plan?
  • How do executives obtain information?
  • What goals and values define the current technology organization?
  • Are technology best practices and standards followed?
  • How does the enterprise select and acquire technology?
  • How effectively does the current portfolio of application support members?
  • How does the enterprise implement technology?
  • How does the enterprise manage and maintain technology assets?
  • How does the enterprise manage security, privacy, integrity, and compliance?
  • How does the enterprise measure performance?
  • Is there a willingness of staff to embrace openness and change?
  • Is there a willingness of senior executives to serve as stewards of IT and ensure IT supports the mission?
  • Is there a willingness to keep things that work and get rid of those that don’t ‐ whether it is a legacy software application, broken business process or failing project ‐ reallocating resources to better investments?
  • Is there sufficient resources to support initiatives with skilled personnel, funding, and time?
  • Is there active and visible senior management support?
  • Is there a well‐defined and disciplined processes for information capture, stewardship, and quality and accuracy assurance of information?

I have been amazed about some of the responses I have received. But it is better to find out now then 6 months into your tenure where you might be struggling.

The CIO Paradox – A Book Review

I don’t often read books about IT leadership because I find that most try to fit business principles into technology and vice versa.  The square peg into a round hole dilemma.

So when Martha Heller approached me to read an advanced copy of her new book The CIO Paradox: Battling the Contradictions of IT Leadership it felt more like homework.  I am thought to myself here is yet another step‑by‑step guide. And that is where I was wrong – very wrong.

The CIO Paradox by Martha Heller

The CIO Paradox by Martha Heller

For those of you who are not familiar with Martha; for over a decade, she has established herself as a figure in IT leadership. She is President of Heller Search Associates, a Boston-based firm specializing in recruiting CIOs and other IT executives across multiple industries. She is probably best known as a Founder and Managing Director of CIO magazine’s CIO Executive Council, a professional organization for CIOs. It was here that she developed leadership programs for CIOs and directed the CIO Best Practice Exchange, a member-only network of CIOs from top-tier organizations. She continues to engage with CIO audiences through CIO Paradox column, as author of CIO.com’s Movers & Shakers blog, and author of You and Your CIO, a blog on CFO.com.

As a CIO for some time, I often read articles and books but never anything that truly captures the essence of what it means to be a CIO. Does this sound familiar:

  • “Your many successes are invisible; your few mistakes are highly visible.”
  • “You were hired to be strategic, but spend most of your time on operational issues.”
  • “You are the steward of risk mitigation and cost containment, yet you are expected to innovate.”
  • “IT can make or break a company, but CIOs rarely sit on corporate boards.”
  • “You develop successors, yet the CEO almost always goes outside to find the next CIO.”
  • “Technology is a long-term investment, but the company thinks in quarters.”

In the book, Martha posits the collection of CIO paradoxes into four larger categories addressing the multi-faceted influence CIOs have on a company. Below are some of the key paradoxes influencing companies today through the perspective of IT executives that Martha has talked with:

1. The CIO Role: You’re Damned If You Do, and You’re Damned If You Don’t

The mindset surrounding how the CIO should function is based on traditional approaches that limit true innovation. For example, our current era grants CIOs the opportunity to drive serious breakthroughs, but this prospect does not decrease the need for cost efficiencies.

2. The Stakeholders: Will the Business Ever Love IT?

As the business and employees get smarter about technology, the more they dislike IT. This is seen when CIOs are intimately involved in every facet of the business, yet they often don’t get a seat at the table.

3. The CIO’s Staff: They Just Don’t Make Them Like That

Recruiting and developing a core of well-rounded IT professionals is laden with structural obstacles and unrealistic expectations. When a rapidly developing field such as technology hasn’t evolved its recruitment process since the dot-com bust, you know there’s a problem.

4. The Future: What’s Next for the CIO?

The forecast of current and future CIOs is a multidimensional one that can negotiate assumptions for demand. A clear example of this is when the CIO role meets many of the specialties a corporate board values, yet CIOs are rarely appointed a seat.

The CIO Paradox is a book for the everyday CIO. The CIO who is in the trenches dealing with these paradoxes each and everyday. It is a good read with just the right amount of humor and wit to engage and captivate.  This is not average boring IT book….

ReBoot – 9 Career Lessons from Dilbert

A CIO's VoiceFrom the Business Insider’s War Room here are “9 Career Lessons From Dilbert Comic Strips”

http://www.businessinsider.com/scott-adams-dilbert-2011-5#-1